Smyth County

Mother of missing Southwest Virginia woman victim of a scam, demanding ransom money

Mother of missing woman receiving...

Six months after a 23-year-old Southwest Virginia woman went missing, her mother is now the victim of a scam that's demanding ransom money to keep her daughter alive.

We first brought you the story of Jami Megan "Meghann"-LaBeth Pakacki in June.

She was last seen by her mom on May 14th.

The last time anyone heard from her was five days later.

When Lori Harris first got a text demanding $5,000 to keep her daughter alive, her first thought was to pay it. But then her instincts kicked in and she realized she was being scammed

"She's been kidnapped and we demand a ransom of $5,000," Harris said one of the texts read.

Six months have passed and time has not healed the wound of the disappearance of her daughter.

"Just let me know you're alive and you're okay. It was the most horrible six months of my life and I just need you to let me know that you're okay," Harris said.

Harris said she started getting these threatening text messages on Monday, demanding she go to a Western Union and transfer $5,000 to Nigeria.

"Do not tell anybody about this unless you want your daughter dead," another text read.

Harris thought to ask for a picture of her daughter or proof of her tattoos.

"They didn't know the tattoos she had. Things didn't add up to me," she said.

The texts violent and shocking, saying things like "she'll be dead in 24 hours."

This coming after Harris was so desperate she had sold her home to post reward money, seeking information about her daughter's whereabouts.

"I sold my parents home. They worked their whole lives on this home and that's the only thing they owened out right and they loved this home. But I have to have money to go search for her because I know her," she said.

Marion Police Lieutenant Andrew Moss said the scammers saw Harris's information online.

"They're out there. Whenever you got a presence online they're gonna find it and they're gonna exploit it," Moss said.

Now, the FBI is involved.

"I will not give up. I will not," Harris said.

If you have any information on Meghann's whereabouts, you're asked to contact police.


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