Phone scam issuing ransom demands targets Va. doctors and dentists

Scam artists continue to reinvent themselves and it seems like one has pinpointed new potential victims in northern Virginia.

There at least two confirmed cases, and both times, they sought out doctors and dentists in Arlington.

On the other end of the line are pleas and cries for help, and when that call nears an end, there are demands for ransom.

"I thought this was about a patient and he told me, ‘No, this is about your daughter and we have her with us," Dr. Carlos Cruz described to us.

The phone call was directed only to Dr. Cruz in this Arlington clinic. He is a pediatric dentist.

"[The caller said] listen to this, and then there was silence, and then I started listening to a girl crying," he said.

The cries were followed by a plea for help. Monday was the first day Arlington Pediatric Dentistry received a call from a mystery man.

Renata Costa described the phone call she received: "I have a patient of 12- or 13-year-old boy that has been in a horrible car accident, and on the right side of his mouth, he lost all his teeth in that area."

But the man would only speak with Dr. Cruz who was not in the office at the time. The person called again the following day.

The doctor got on the phone and the man on the other end of the line put on what police are calling one big scam.

Costa said the caller told her, "You want to help her or not? It's up to you. If you don't do anything to help her, then we are going to kill her."

That is when the demands for money followed. The only problem is that Dr. Cruz has no children.

"These scams are just occurring in record numbers now," said Dustin Sternbeck of the Arlington County Police Department.

Police say on that same day, another Arlington doctor was targeted. This time, the cries were from a woman claiming to be the doctor's wife. The doctor was able to make sure she was okay before he fell for the ruse.

"A lot of times you see these people calling from overseas or out of state, so it's almost near impossible to catch these individuals," said Sternbeck.

Police say they have not been able to track down the number. We did a quick search and the area code for that number appears to be used for roaming calls from Mexico.

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