HOUSTON - Marisela Barrow says she got the unexpected phone call from an unknown number Monday afternoon from someone claiming to be her brother, in town from Mexico and stuck at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Someone she hadn't seen or heard from in years.
Marisela Barrow, who almost fell victim to the scam, said her brother told her that "once he walks out of (the airport) he will be fined or he will be deported by immigration for not declaring what he brought."
The convincing caller claimed he was stuck at customs with $25,000 in cash for business purposes and needed Barrow to do a favor.
He gave a bank account number and asked her to transfer $1,600 to pay the taxes so that he could be free to leave.
"They keep you talking so that you're not quick on your feet to know that something's going on," Barrow said.
As for why Barrow ever believed that it was actual brother? He knew a lot of information.
"They found our family's maiden name, they knew the names that we used. They know where he lives, they knew where I lived," she said.
On the way and close to transferring the money, a still suspicious Barrow reached out to her brother's wife down in Mexico only to find out that he was nowhere near Houston.
"I said, 'Nena, is my brother with you?' She said, 'Yes, he's right here with me. We're at the pool with the kids'," Barrow said.
Barrows said at one point, a second person claiming to be with the consulate came on phone as part of this scam.
But she said the real red flag was when they asked her to transfer the money to another person's name instead of a government agency.
While she didn't actually fall for the scam, Barrow says it was certainly a close call.
That's why she's sharing her story for others to be aware.
"I know that people do anything for money but, you know, this is a new low for them. They have no conscience," she said.
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