LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Getting conned and losing money is the last thing many people would want to admit happened to them. Las Vegas couple Lisa Rodriguez and Anne Goldstone are providing a bizarre account of how they were swindled out of $1,700 so the same thing doesn’t happen to others.
“It was absolutely real. I was living a nightmare. In my mind there’s going to be a murder and if I don’t do everything that I’m asked to do; it’s going to be my fault. I’m going to be the reason my wife dies today,” said Lisa Rodriquez.
Lisa Rodriguez got a call in March while she was sleeping. She thought it was a police officer saying her wife Anne had been in a car accident. As Rodriguez woke up, she learned it was something quite sinister.
“He started to yell at me. He goes, listen. He goes, are you going to help me or not? Are you going to help me or not? He said your wife has witnessed something that she shouldn’t have witnessed. He added we are drug dealers and your wife got involved in something she shouldn’t have been involved in. So, are you going to help us or not,” said Rodriguez.
Many might have simply hung up the phone at that point. Rodriguez said she didn’t because of a couple things that happened next. She said the “drug dealers” knew her wife’s name and they even put her on the phone where Rodriguez heard her sobbing and asking for help.
“And I don’t know if this was psychological or if they have some type of technology that they were able to get a hold of her voice. I don’t know how they did it, but it sounded exactly like her,” said Rodriguez.
The couple wonders if the scammers found personal information about them from social media. Or perhaps even looked up public records to gain information about them. Rodriguez also doesn’t know how the scammers got her cell phone number. The scammers may have simply been lucky by guessing some information. Lisa’s wife, Anne Goldstone, was called in to work that Saturday when she is typically off weekends. They are puzzled as to how the scammers would know she wasn’t home at the time. In fact, the couple almost foiled the plan by meeting up. Goldstone arrived home from work just 30 minutes after Lisa left.
For the next seven hours Lisa Rodriguez said she drove all over the valley withdrawing money from banks and sending some money from Walmart. She said the scammers kept her on the line the entire time and told her they would kill her wife if she answered any phone calls and text messages.
Anne Goldstone was not fooled by the scam. She knew something was wrong when she arrived home and Lisa wasn’t there.
“Went on the cell phone account and pulled up the phone record. And that’s when I see she’s on an international phone call. And I’m like shoot, she fell for a scam,” said Goldstone.
Rodriguez was afraid the “kidnappers” would kill Anne, she did not pick up any calls or text message from Goldstone, or other family members trying to call.
After withdrawing and sending the scammers $1,700, Rodriguez was not able to withdraw any more money because Goldstone put a hold on their bank accounts. The scammers told Rodriquez to go to family for money. Rodriguez went to Goldstone’s sister’s home. Prior to the drive there, Rodriguez wrote on her arm Anne was kidnapped by drug dealers and she needed help. She said she couldn’t tell that to Goldstone’s sister because the kidnappers were constantly on the phone and could hear her conversations. She was hoping the relative would read the notes she wrote on her arm. The woman told Rodriguez that Anne was safe and to hang up the phone.
“My sister in law says hang up the phone, Lisa. I hang up the phone and I drop to the ground and I was unbearably out of it for a good 20 minutes. I was just laying on her floor screaming and sobbing. I hung up but they called back. When I saw the number I just, it’s kind of like seeing a rapist, I just threw it. I was ready to vomit,” said Rodriguez.
Police got involved that day and the couple filed a police report, but they don’t think there is anything police can do to find the scammers let alone recover their money.
The National Institutes of Health has information about this type of scam and other kidnapping scams. It cites the FBI on how to avoid being a victim. It suggests people check their privacy settings on social media accounts and to “revisit” the information publicized on those accounts.
The couple hopes by telling their story people will be educated about the scam, and not fall for it.