Young nurse says ‘panic’ set in when scammer said her father was hostage after crash; she’s out $900

MILWAUKEE -- Imagine getting a phone call and hearing someone has kidnapped your father and was going to hurt him. It is a scam that ended up costing a Milwaukee woman nearly $900.

MPD detectives are looking into a frightening scam where a mystery caller threatens to harm your loved one.

It started as a phone call, and turned into a startling scam for Alison Charette. The man on the other end said her father was in a car crash.

"He says 'he's fine, but you need listen very carefully,'" said Charette.

Alison Charette

Charette was told her father was taken hostage by the caller's cousin after the crash.

"He then basically said I needed to pay money for the damages of the car and that's when I would be able to talk to him," said Charette.

Sheer panic set in.

"I said 'I don't know how to get you money. My bank is in Illinois and I'm living in Milwaukee.' He said 'we're going to tell you exactly what to do,'" said Charette.

The man told Charette to drive to a nearby Walmart store and wire transfer nearly $900.

"When someone says your loved one has been in a car accident and they are holding him, I'd pay any kind of money to keep them safe," said Charette.

He demanded she stay on the line and keep to herself throughout the transaction.

"If you talk to anyone, talk to the police, anything, hang up the phone -- you will never see Mr. Charette again," said Charette.

Charette, a 25-year-old nurse, frantically followed the demands to ensure her father's survival.

"I gave my information myself 'and then you swipe your debit card and it's done,'" said Charette.

Charette stayed on the line with the man until she finally reached her father. It turns out, he was on a plane and couldn't get to his phone. She said she was relieved.

"I wasn't able to make sense of my words. I was in such a panic," said Charette.

Charette now has a message for the mystery man behind the scam.

"Making a living off of other people's hard earned money. I don't truly understand how someone can live with themselves and do that," said Charette.

She filed a police report, but Charette said she knows her money will likely never be returned. She said she hopes sharing her experience will ensure it won't happen to someone else.