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'I thought that somebody had my baby.' Austin mom warns others of elaborate kidnapping scam

A caller who claimed to be a police officer told the mother that her child had been in a car accident and then said he kidnapped the child.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin mom wants to alert others after she was targeted in a kidnapping scam Thursday morning.

Pye Brown said the criminal went to great lengths to make her think her child was in danger.

"I felt like I was underwater. I was shaking so much because I thought that somebody had my baby," Brown said.

Her biggest fear became a reality for a few seconds.

"It was only seconds until I got confirmation that she was safe, but that everything just stood still," Brown said.

She got a call from a 512 area code. On the phone was a man who claimed to be a police officer who gave her a name and badge number. Then the caller said her child had been in a car accident, was fine and needed to be picked up.

"A child got on the phone and was crying for their mama," Brown said.

The story quickly took a turn.

"Told me that he used that story to get my attention and that my daughter was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that he had her," Brown recalled of the moment she thought her child had been kidnapped.

Her child was with a nanny, so Brown believed the kidnapping could be true.

"He claimed to be in a Mexican drug gang and that I need to listen carefully to his instructions," Brown said.

Instinct kicked in. Brown began to doubt the caller and asked for a description of her child. At the same time she texted her nanny, who sent a picture of her child and let her know everything was fine. Then the scammer hung up.

"I have to presume for my mental health that this was a fluke and that this person did not know specific details about me. But that's possible, right?," Brown said.

After getting off the phone, Brown called 911 but was told because it wasn't an emergency that she should call 311 to file a report.

"I'm relieved. I've been spooning my baby. Everything's fine. So, like, my heart feels better and I feel like my family is safe," Brown said.

The mother said she knows the likelihood of this happening to anyone else isn't that common, but she doesn't want other parents to feel the way she did when she got that call. 

Austin 311 confirmed to KVUE that it got Brown's report about this incident. Brown said she hasn't heard from the City or Austin police so far. 

For more information from the FBI on virtual kidnapping, click here. And for more from the National Institutes of Health, click here.


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