MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Myrtle Beach Police Department is warning of a scam going around the Grand Strand in which victims receive a phone call from someone claiming they've kidnapped a loved one, and they won't let them go until money is transferred to them.
Murrells Inlet resident Shane Benoit nearly fell victim to the scam Tuesday afternoon.
He was on his way to Myrtle Beach from Murrells Inlet to enjoy a nice day off with his 20-year-old son when he received a phone call from someone saying Benoit's wife was with them.
Someone on the other end of the line pretended to be Benoit's wife screaming and yelling for help.
"He said, 'How far are you from the nearest Walmart?,' which was about 20 minutes, but I told him 15. He said, 'You've got 10 minutes to get there with $5,000 or I'm going to kill your wife,'" Benoit said.
As time went on, the man on the other end of the line got less and less patient. He threatened to cut one of the wife's fingers off for every minute Benoit was late.
Benoit's son was driving. They didn't go to a Walmart. Instead, they drove to the Myrtle Beach Police Department, which ended up being a good move, because police were able to determine Benoit's wife was at work unharmed.
Benoit says he's still shaken from the incident.
"I'm still pretty screwed up about it," Benoit said. "Now I worry every time my wife goes to work without somebody being with her when she leaves work late at night."
Benoit was able to get away without sending any money to the scammers, but not everyone is that lucky.
John Smith lost $1,000 to the scam when the caller told him his stepson was kidnapped. He later found out his stepson was safe.
"I made my mistake, and I realize it now," Smith said. "I just hope that it doesn't happen to anybody else."
Click here for tips from the FBI on how to handle yourself if you find yourself in this situation.