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Family warns others about frightening virtual kidnapping scam

(WPDE)

Imagine getting a phone call and the person on the other line says they'll kill one of your family members unless you bring them $5,000. That's what happened to a Murrells Inlet family Tuesday.

Veteran Shane Benoit has been through a lot. He served his country overseas, built a family, but what he's been through has been nothing compared to this.

"Swapping over into the Navy, Persian Gulf, everything like that, but nothing has ever hit me like somebody affecting somebody in my family," said Benoit.

Benoit and his son decided they'd head to the beach, since they don't get to spend much time together, but their day was interrupted.

"And I get a phone call. It appeared to be my wife, she was very frantic and in trouble. I couldn't make out exactly what she was saying, she wasn't talking clearly, she was very frantic," he said.

He went into battle mode. "Shortly after that, a guy gets on the phone and starts telling me what to do or my wife's gonna die".

Benoit says man who said his name was Victor was on the line, called him Papi, and gave him 10 minutes to deliver $5,000.

"He says you got 10 minutes. Every minute you're late, I'm gonna cut a finger off of her," said Benoit.

So he and his son drove and eventually made it to a Myrtle Beach Police station.

"Took a risk with the cops, not talking, to try to get them to hear the conversation, without knowing the police are right there, so they could help me figure out what the heck we're gonna do," he said.

Two officers and Shane's son drove to where his wife worked, and finally, relief.

"Finally, my wife answered the phone, they told her to come outside, my son ran up to her, gave her a hug, started crying," he said.

After relief, though, came the confusion.

Myrtle Beach Police are calling this a virtual kidnapping scam.

Benoit and his son keep reliving the terrifying call.

"My thing is to make sure that it gets to the public about how serious this scam is, and how threatening it is, and terroristic it is for people with health issues and everything else to get it out there," said Benoit.

His battle continues, and he won't wave the white flag. He says saving at least one family from the same terror would be worth it.

Benoit believes these scammers could be targeting small business owners and that the people who called him may have been able to figure out his family's schedules and voices via their Facebook pages. He's asking that people be careful about how much they're posting on social media.

Myrtle Beach Police are investigating this scam. They say if you suspect a real kidnapping is taking place or if you think a ransom demand is a scheme, make sure you call local law enforcement either way.

For tips from the FBI on how to avoid virtual kidnapping scams, click here.

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