Loranger, LA (FOX44) — A scam is going around that prays on one of a parents' worst fears: finding out that their child is being held hostage.
On Thursday, January 24, Dawn Sharpe received a call from a a number she did not recognize. The man on the other end told her that her son, Trey, got in a crash crash with the man's brother. Trey allegedly started a fight, prompting the man to hit him with a handgun and take him hostage.
"And I was like, 'oh my god,'" Dawn recalled, "'you're saying that your brother took my son?' And he was like 'yes.'"
She panicked and prepared to get enough money to pay the ransom.
"Anybody's gonna do anything for their child," she said, "even grandparents. And I think that's what they want us to do, is just freak out and do anything that we have to."
But the longer she stayed on the phone with the suspect, the more suspicious she became.
"So he said, 'just listen to me very carefully.' He said 'it's $600 for the damage.' And at that point," she remembered, "I kinda thought, how does he know how much the damage is already if it just happened?"
Another clue came when Dawn asked to speak to her son. The man on the other end of the line said that would not be possible, because his brother took him to an apartment complex in the projects, and there are no large, public housing projects near Loranger.
Her sister and daughter were also home at the time, so Dawn enlisted their help as quietly as she could.
"Keep me on he phone at all times," Dawn was told by the caller, "and any time you hang up, then I can't guarantee your son's safety."
Dawn sent her daughter to Loranger High, because that was where Trey should have been. She found her brother in math class, safe and sound.
"I looked at her," Trey said, "and I said, 'I'm right here, so i don't know who they got.'"
Trey's sister called her aunt with the good news, that Trey was not in danger. Then they both drove home, to Dawn's indescribable relief.
"Just his smell, just comforted me," she said.
The Sharpes say it may be a long time before they move past the terror of that day.
"I let her know every time I go somewhere," Trey said. "Like, I often go to the gym, work out, and I'll be like, 'hey, can I go to the gym?' And she'll be like, 'as long as you text me!'"
"That's going to be for a while," Dawn added. "Until I feel comfortable."
There have also been reports of this hoax being attempted in the Houma and Thibodaux areas.
Dawn described the caller as a man with a Hispanic accent. He called from (779)-548-1198, which is an area code belonging to northern Illinois. Detectives told the Sharpes that the number belonged to a disposable phone, making it very difficult to trace.
"One day these guys will be caught that's doing this. They have no conscience."