A phone scam designed to bring pure terror to its victim appears to be circulating throughout the area targeting residents of the Hispanic community, according to complaints recently reported to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The perpetrators of the scam concoct different schemes involving a family member of the victim, in an effort to frighten them into sending money via a wire-transfer through either Western Union or Moneygram.
In one case, the victim said she was contacted by phone and told that her loved one had been involved in a very bad accident and would not receive any medical treatment until she wired $3,000. In a separate incident, another female victim reported she received a threatening phone call from someone who claimed a relative had been kidnapped and would be killed unless she paid a ransom through a wire transfer. In each incident the male caller spoke in Spanish - most likely to bring “credibility” to his story - and told the victims they had 30 minutes to respond to his demands and that they should not go to police because their phones were being monitored.
Although the victims did not send money, they were extremely distraught about the well-being of their relatives, especially because the caller had personal family information. “Unfortunately, scammers have access to our personal lives through many different forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and with a little bit of research they can use that information to take advantage of the innocent,” says Sheriff Mike Scott.
Scott urges anyone who receives a phone call like this to make contact with their relative first to confirm they are OK, followed by a call to authorities. To reach the Lee County Sheriff's Office fraud line call 477-1242. # # # "