It began with a phone call on December 1, 2017.

Donnie McCaslin said the voice on the other end said, "If you don't listen to me you and your family may be murdered."

The 57-year-old spoke exclusively to WUSA9 Reporter Stephanie Gailhard.

"I've never been so scared in my life. I think I was shaking. I was shaking," he said.

An email followed that phone call. It said his social security number had been suspended.

"I had to max out all my credit cards and go to the bank and drain my savings," he said.

Donnie said the caller directed him to use that money to buy gift cards at Target, Best Buy and Walmart.

"I fell for the scam because I believed what he told. I was in danger and so was my family. I felt like I was hypnotized. I couldn't move. I don't even remember driving to the stores and when I went to the bank they tried to ask me if I was ok and I was shaking, really shaking, I still had him on the phone," he said.

Donnie said the scam artist made him scratch off the back of each gift card revealing PIN numbers. The criminal used those numbers to go online and purchase tens of thousands of dollars worth gifts.

"I said I had to go home and get medicine.I thought I was going to have a stroke," he said.

We did some checking with Prince William County police. They confirmed Donnie filed a police report. They are investigating.

"They drained my bank account and credit cards. I'm going to have to borrow money to cover my bills. I'm going to have to take loans to pay credit cards off," he said.

Donnie said the con artist called at a time when he was especially vulnerable. He was still recovery from surgery.

Similar scams are going on around the country right now. Police said they are career criminals. They know exactly what to say to get you to do what they want. Fear is one of their tactics.

If you would like to help Donnie, here's a link to his GoFundMe page.