Imagine answering your phone and being told that if you don’t send the caller a certain amount of money, a loved one will be killed. It might sound like the plot of a Hollywood drama, but the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says it’s happening here and the agency is warning residents in New Port Richey to be alert.
“They get the victim acting on their emotions to go immediately to a store and send the money instead of calling their relative,” wrote sheriff's office spokeswoman Melanie Snow in an email alerting the media about the scams.
In recent incidents, the callers have told victims that a family member was involved in a traffic accident in which they were at fault.
In one case, the caller told a man that he was holding his son in his basement and if his demands weren’t met, he would “bury him in a hole.” In that case, the victim was with his brother who was able to contact family members and discover that no one was actually being held hostage.
In another case, a woman in Land O’ Lakes wired $300 to an account before she realized it was a scam.
If you get a call like this, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says you should:
- Try to contact the family member first
- Record the phone number of the incoming call
- Contact law enforcement, so they can conduct an investigation
- Not send money
Deputies ask that even if you are able to contact your family member, you still file a report with the sheriff’s office so that they can conduct an investigation.