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Scam victim speaks out to warn others

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Jenna Masotta said she as the victim of a scam. (WFSB photo) Jenna Masotta said she as the victim of a scam. (WFSB photo)
WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) -

A woman from Waterbury said she was the victim of a scam where someone called her claiming her brother was being held hostage.

Jenna Masotta said the caller had very specific information about her family.

"The only thing that I'm thinking of is I'm terrified," said Masotta. "I want my brother to be OK, and I need to get them this money."

Masotta said she was having a normal Thursday running errands when she got the call from a number she did not recognize.

She said a man with a thick Spanish accent said her brother caused an accident and that he was being held hostage until they received money to cover the damage. If she didn't, they said her brother would die.

"He's saying, ‘you have to hurry up, you have to hurry up,'" Masotta said. "He knew my name, he knew my brother's name, he knew little details about him that not even some of my closest family members know."

She said they knew details like the color of her brother's phone case and that he'd just cut his hair. Terrified, she rushed to the bank and wired $1,000 to Puerto Rico.

When the caller asked for more money, she said she hung up and called police. Then she called her brother. He was safe.

Police in Waterbury said they had a similar series of calls in the city about a month ago. They said the calls mainly target Hispanic residents.

A warning was put out to let people know what was happening. Police said they aren't sure yet if those calls were connected to Masotta's because there were some important differences.

First, police said the caller in Masotta's case knew specific details about her brother. Second, the call did not come from a blocked number.

Masotta said even if she knew about those other calls, she did not know if she'd react any different in the moment.

"Thinking about it now, there were so many things going through my head that I wish I would have done that I didn't do," she said. "I guess I'm just realizing the fear. That was the only thing I was reacting on was the fear."

Masotta believes the suspects obtained her number through social media. She still does not know how they knew all the details about her brother. She's hoping her story will serve as a warning.

"What? What was I thinking?" she said. "Just what was I thinking sending money to Puerto Rico? I'm an intelligent woman. I'm well-educated. What was I thinking?"

Newington police on Friday released a similar warning about this type of scam. They said in that one, the caller claims to be holding one of the victim's relatives hostage in Willimantic. The caller may also claim a family member has been in a serious accident and needed money.

Some of the victims reported that the caller knew where they lived and what type of cars they drove. Those numbers, police said, were also traced to Puerto Rico.

Police said if anyone gets a call like that, do not release any personal information. Call the local police department immediately.

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