Indianapolis, IN – The family of a missing 17-year-old girl was cruelly targeted by scammers on May 30, when they were contacted with claims that her daughter was being held for ransom.
Southport High School senior Kaylae Nicolay, 17, went missing on the morning of May 24, WISH reported.
Her mother, Mary Armstrong, said that Nicolay had recently been struggling with mental health issues, and that she last saw her daughter watching television on the family’s couch on the evening of May 23.
The next morning, Nicolay was nowhere to be found.
Her family immediately contacted police and launched a search to find the missing teen.
"I have done nothing but non-stop sent pictures, flyers, whatever I had to do over Facebook," Armstrong told WTTV.
“Not hearing your child’s voice is a horrible thing,” she added, according to WISH. "I feel like I'm at a loss. I feel like I'm at a standstill.”
On May 30, the desperate mother finally received a tip that she believed could bring her daughter back home safely.
A person who identified herself as Mathilda Bmann on Facebook sent Armstrong a message and claimed to have information about Nicolay’s whereabouts.
Bmann’s profile claimed that she was a widowed American Red Cross nurse and midwife living in Austin, Texas.
"She says she has info about my daughter," Armstrong explained. "You look at the picture and you think, ‘This looks like a nice lady. I'm going to see what's going on.’"
The scammer told Armstrong that she believed her daughter had been kidnapped and claimed that her own daughter had also been abducted by the same man.
"She was like, 'He has your daughter. He had my daughter. He wants $1,000, and when I paid $1,000, he gave me my daughter back. Call this number and he'll want the ransom,'" Armstrong told WISH.
Bmann explained that the kidnapper held her daughter captive in the same room with Nicolay and that Nicolay asked her daughter to contact Armstrong if the girl was ever freed.
The scammer claimed that the kidnapper had law enforcement “connections,” and that he would kill Nicolay if Armstrong tried to alert police regarding the information she had provided to her.
"So, I [advise] you give him what he wants and take any legal action after you have your daughter back," Bmann said in a message, according to Armstrong.
The desperate mother said she then texted the alleged kidnapper at the number Bmann provided.
“They were very vulgar, cussing and all that," she recounted. "He said 'I have your daughter, if you want her you have to pay me $1,000.'"
The kidnapper claimed that he was holding 11 girls captive and that he checked on them once every three days. He told Armstrong that he would need $100 if she wanted him to go back to take a photo of Nicolay to prove she was with him.
"Would I risk losing $100 for my daughter?” Armstrong read from the messages on her phone, according to WISH. “What a mother I am."
She said she was about to go pick up the gift card the kidnapper demanded, when her other family members realized that they were likely the target of a scam.
“He never told me exactly where to send it or anything,” Armstrong said.
“My mom is repeating the messages to me and I'm listening I'm like, ‘I just watched the news,’” her older daughter, Sieanna Baum told WTTV. “The news just went off. I'm like, ‘I don't want to tell my mom this but I feel like it's a scam.’"
The family also learned that Bmann had attempted to scam another woman in a similar situation, WISH reported.
"What they did to us is gave me false hope,” said Armstrong. “There's my baby. I have to go pay to get her? I'd pay anything to get her if it was real.”
Nicolay is still missing and police are actively investigating her disappearance.
“It’s not fair,” Armstrong said. “I just want to know where my little girl is.”
Kaylae remains missing, please share her picture on social media to help get the word out.