Scammer Tried Convincing Sheridan Woman He Kidnapped Her Daughter

A man with a Wyoming area code called a Sheridan woman last week and told her that her daughter had been forced into a vehicle and was being held for ransom. It turned out to be a scam but officers warn these types of scams are becoming more prevalent.

Clair McFarland

June 03, 20243 min read

The Walmart Supercenter in Sheridan, Wyoming.
The Walmart Supercenter in Sheridan, Wyoming. (Google)

A man with a Wyoming area code phone number called a Sheridan woman last week and told her that her daughter had been forced into a vehicle and was being held for ransom.

The woman was instructed to go to her local Walmart and transfer $2,500 via Western Union to the man to get her daughter back safe.

The woman called police.

“She was concerned. She absolutely did the right thing by calling us,” Sheridan Police Department Capt. Tom Ringley told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

Sheridan’s dispatch center was able to get in touch with the daughter and learned that she was alive and well — not kidnapped — the Sheridan Police Department reported via Facebook, outlining the elaborate scam to make the woman believe her daughter was being held for ransom.

Ringley elaborated Monday, saying the daughter was in Gillette, and that Sheridan PD worked with the Gillette Police Department to confirm her safety.

Sheridan police listened in on a subsequent phone call between the mother and the suspect demanding the ransom. The man reportedly had a foreign accent and gave the mother instructions to go to Walmart and transfer the money.

“It became obvious the entire situation was an attempt to scam the family out of $2,500,” says the statement.

Hung Up On Him

Officers told the woman to hang up, and “almost immediately” the man called back saying she shouldn’t have hung up, the statement adds.

An officer grabbed the phone, identified himself and said he knew the ransom demand was a hoax.

The suspect “voiced his displeasure” and the call ended, the SPD report says.

The phone number traces back to a clinic near Yellowstone National Park.

Ringley said the caller cloned the Wyoming phone number for the fraud attempt.

Same Theme, Different Day

Ringley said this most recent attempt is similar to the recurring scam in which callers demand money to bail people’s young adult kids out of Mexican or Central American jails when they are in fact not in jail.

“These scams slowly evolve to where the essence is roughly the same, but the names and places change,” he said.

The Sheridan Police Department has a “scam screen” system by which people can meet with an officer, discuss an incident, and the officer gives his or her opinion on whether the incident is a scam before proceeding with a report or other action, Ringley said.

The department has had 29 scam reports since it started that system in October, he said.

“We’ve been able to stop people from sending money,” Ringley said. “It’s always (requested) in the form of a gift card or Western Union.”

Scams are prevalent nationwide. Ringley said the department focuses on public awareness, especially since callers can be in other countries.

Another common theme is a scammer telling someone she’s just won the lottery, but needs to send a smaller sum to collect the winnings, he said.

“It only takes a couple people to send the money, to make it worthwhile for the criminals,” Ringley added.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter