FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) The FBI is investigating after an attempt to extort money from the mother of missing Fort Hood Pvt. Gregory Morales, 23.
Morales, who’s assigned to the 150th Composite Transportation Company, was last seen on Aug. 19.
“Dead or alive, I’d really like to know what's up with him,” Morales’ mother Kim Wedel said Thursday.
She is working with authorities while in Oklahoma.
On Thursday she found out the FBI is stepping in after she received a Facebook message that claimed her son was being held hostage for money that he owed to someone.
“First they asked me how much could I pay, then came back with $15,000,” she says.
Then, she got an email from someone else.
“He was saying he had Greg and he was fine, but they were going to kill him in 10 days if he didn't have the money,” she says.
The email included an edited picture of her son's face, she says on someone else's body, in an unfamiliar living room.
The picture had Wednesday’s date stamped in the corner.
But the requests didn’t stop there.
“I had another lady send me an email saying she would give the address he's being held at for two bitcoins,” she said.
That translates to about $21,000.
The FBI confirms it is assisting with the investigation.
The agency says it often sees what it calls "virtual kidnapping schemes" in cases along the U.S.-Mexico border in which scammers target vulnerable people, claiming to be holding missing loved ones and demanding ransom.
The publicity that is supposed to help find a missing person can also make their families a target.
“What if one of their family members were missing? Would they want people throwing out false things or trying to extort money from them just because they know I’m desperate for word of my child?” Wedel said.
Despite the risk, Wedel is making sure her son’s case is not forgotten as she waits to hear from someone who truly knows what happened to him.
She says anyone with information on her son’s whereabouts should call police.