Scam calls happen so often now that most of us tend to ignore any unknown phone numbers we see coming through. But what if the number that was calling wasn’t unknown at all? What if it was coming from someone so close to you that you’d never suspect it was fake?
That’s exactly what a woman named Beth (@bethroyce) says happened to her when she found herself on the receiving end of a cruel and elaborate scam call. It ultimately left her so shaken that she decided to share the story on TikTok in hopes of warning others.
“I need to tell everyone about a really bad scam that I experienced today,” Beth began. “I don’t know if you can tell, [but] I’ve been crying all morning.”
According to Beth, she awoke suddenly around 7 a.m. to an unexpected call from her sister.
Except that it wasn’t.
Once she picked up, a stranger’s voice was on the other line — a man whom Beth said began “screaming” at her and making demands.
“[He was telling me] you’re not gonna call anyone else, you’re not gonna call the police, you’re not gonna talk to anyone — I have your sister,” Beth recalled.
That’s enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine, but Beth was especially terrified.
“It’s so hard for me to describe to you how real this all sounded,” she said, looking back. “Like, I’m not an idiot. I’m so good at spotting phishing emails. I’m so good at spotting scam calls, I never fall for anything.”
But this was clearly different.
“It was the realest, scariest moment of my entire life,” she recalled — and yet, it was far from over.
She said the man on the other line continued screaming at her and sounded “completely unhinged.” Even worse, she could hear muffled sobbing in the background that sounded like it was coming from a woman.
“I fully, 100% believed that this was real,” Beth admitted, saying she assumed the woman in the background must have been her sister.
The call continued on for about 15 minutes as Beth tried her best to calm the man down and make small talk. But by the end of those 15 minutes, she had caved to his demands and sent him money.
Unlike other common phone scams, which require people to send large amounts of money on various gift cards, Beth said this felt different.
“It wasn’t like that,” she insisted. “He was like, ‘I need you to send me money, I need to get home, I just got out of jail … I’m not a bad person.'”
At one point, the man even started crying.
But this is the part that still gives her chills: After the man appeared to break down, more sobs could be heard from the woman in the background. That’s when the scammer spun around and told her, “Listen, you need to calm down. You’re gonna hurt yourself. I’m gonna get money from your sister and then everything’s gonna be fine. I’m gonna let you go.”
Unbeknownst to the scammer, Beth wasn’t home alone when he called. Her mother was asleep downstairs, so she quietly ran down to wake her and asked her to call the police without the man hearing. Then, she stepped outside so he wouldn’t overhear her mother dialing 911.
The whole time, Beth said she was “terrified” the man was going to kill her sister. But luckily, her mother thought to call her sister’s number after getting off the phone with the police, and that’s when it became clear that the whole thing had been a hoax.
“This was really, really scary,” said Beth. “Like it felt so real that I’m not kidding, I’m traumatized and worried about PTSD.”
Since sharing her story on TikTok, it’s gained more than 4 million views.
A lot of people commiserated with Beth in the comments.
“I got a call like this,” one person wrote. “They ssid they had my sister (told me her real name) & demanded $1,000. My sister died in 1983, so I hung up.”
“My friend lost $13k like this,” someone else shared.
“This happened to me too but said he was the police and my brother was in an accident…I’m an only child,” another person wrote.
Sadly, Beth’s story is just one of many.
“As a 911 dispatcher, this happens a lot,” one person wrote. “It’s very scary.”
“i still can’t believe human beings can put other human beings through this kind of fear & turmoil,” another said. “the lack of empathy is shocking. i’m so sorry.”
Others shared helpful tips they learned to avoid similar experiences.
“Our family has a code word,” one person shared. “If there is a real emergency we all say the word. It confirms it’s real and not a joke.”
In a follow-up video, Beth did answer one burning question that a lot of people seemed to have: How much money did the scammer get away with?
“Luckily, I’m currently paying for my wedding and I’m broke,” she admitted. “So all I had was about $500.”
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