• Woman duped out of $200 after falling victim to 'hostage scam'

    By: Alexa Ashwell


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte woman is out more than $200 after falling victim to a hostage scam.

    Michelle Kesel-Giancola, 25, said she was at work when she received a call on her cellphone Tuesday afternoon. She said a man on the line claimed to have her father hostage and threatened to kill him if she didn’t send money.

    “He was saying, ‘Do what I say or I’m going to kill your dad,’ and ‘Don’t hang up or I’m going to kill your dad,” she said.

    The man had a thick Spanish accent and claimed her father ran over his nephew with his car, Kesel-Giancola said.

    “He said he tried to run away and now they need money because the nephew is in the hospital,” she said.

    Confused and scared for her father’s life, Kesel-Giancola complied with the caller’s orders. She got into her car and drove about 2 miles to a nearby convenience store where she bought four AT&T cards for more than $200.

    “Every minute he was asking me what I was doing,” she said. “Then he asked for the PIN and hung up the phone.”

    She then called her father, and learned he was at work and unharmed.

    “I was so relieved to just hear his voice,’ she said. “Just to know that he was OK.”

    When Channel 9 called the same number that called Michelle, no one answered.

    Police said these scammers are difficult to trace and anyone could be targeted.

    Earlier this month, a Belmont mother received a similar threat about her daughter, making national headlines.

    Monroe police also received similar reports and sent out an alert to residents warning them of the scam.

    Michelle said she hopes her story to prevent someone else from becoming a victim.

    “I really just had no idea,” she said.

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said no arrests have been made in the case. 

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