EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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August 16, 2013

Man loses cash in bogus kidnap scam

METHUEN — A local man told police he lost $1,000 after receiving a demanding cell phone call from two men who said they had kidnapped his injured father and wouldn’t bring him to a local hospital unless he wired them cash.

However, Carlos Castillo’s father was fine and attending a local church during the entire ordeal Sunday afternoon.

Castillo, 33, of Methuen, ended up wiring $1,000 cash in two $500 payments after receiving the cell phone call at 1:45 p.m.

Two different men who spoke to him during the call, which came from a New Jersey cell phone number, said his 63-year-old father had been in a car accident. The men, who had Puerto Rican accents, refused to bring his dad to the emergency room unless they were wired $1,500 cash, he said.

“They told me to stay calm and not to do anything stupid,” Castillo said.

At their suggestion, Castillo went to an ATM and withdrew $500 — all the money he had in savings. He then wired the money to the men, as they instructed. “They gave me a name and all the instructions to the fill out the paperwork to send the money,” he said.

Claiming to be driving a black SUV with tinted windows, they callers said they would meet Castillo at Lawrence General Hospital emergency room. But then they claimed his father tried to escape from them — so they asked for $1,000 more.

“I told them that I took all the money I had out of the bank,” Castillo said. “They told me to go to my house, get your TV, pawn your car.”

Castillo went to a family member who gave him $500, which he again wired as instructed by the callers. After the second payment went through, the callers hung up. Castillo soon learned from a cousin that his father was physically fine and safe.

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