Deputies: Man who caused bank robbery scare was scammed

Caller told man his family was in danger, deputies say


ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County deputies are trying to find whoever scammed a local father into causing a bank robbery scare because he thought his son was being held hostage.

Deputies said the scammer called the man and demanded money. The 32 year-old father then went to the Fairwinds Credit Union on Alafaya Trail and Science Drive.

"The phone rings, somebody told me they had my son hostage, told me they were going to shoot him in the face if I didn't give 'em money," said the man, who chose not to give his name. "He told me wanted me to go to the bank and withdraw money, so I went to bank because I didn't know if someone was watching me or not and I handed a note to the teller telling her to call police. She mistook it and thought I was trying to rob the bank."

Deputies say they quickly arrived to the credit union after the teller hit the silent alarm. Although deputies arrived and the father thought he was receiving the help he had requested, the situation looked more like a bank robbery.

In a special press conference Friday afternoon, detectives said the scam is targeting people from Texas to Pennsylvania to Florida. Local 6 first reported on the scam in 2011 targeting women in Osceola County.

Detectives said usually the callers pull personal details out of their victims and use it to sound believable.

"When someone calls and says we have your sister, brother, whatever, you don't give them the information they're looking for," said Cpl. Craig Hall. "A lot of times they'll go give a name - so you're saying you have Joe? Yeah, we have Joe! Then they can play off that information."

However, bank customers said they would not have made the same choice.

"I can't imagine what I would do in a situation like that if somebody was threatening people that are close to me," said Colin Hill. "I don't think I would go to the bank. I don't think I would take it as seriously. People try to take advantage of people all the time."

The victim in Thursday's scam says he fell for it because the caller knew his son's name.

"Did I ask him questions, yeah, I asked him how he knew my son's name, what this was about, and they kept on with they're gonna shoot him if I don't come up with the money."

"It was 2 people, and they were acting like they were screaming at my kid, so it was believable."

Detectives said usually the callers choose their victims at random, but sometimes they'll take personal information from a database they have access to, or even social media. Also, the callers will attempt to keep their victims on the phone so they cannot verify that a loved one is in trouble or call police.