Within the last 24 hours, a very disturbing and frightening phone scam has been reported to the Lee County Sheriff's Office by several concerned residents. Citizens are being advised to hang up the phone and contact the Sheriff's Office fraud line if a call is received that goes something like this:
Scammer: "We have kidnapped your brother (or other relative) and we are demanding you wire money for his (her) release or we will kill you and your entire family."
In one incident, the victim contacted her brother while she was on the phone with the scammer and discovered he was safe and sound. When the victim told the scammer she was on to him, he threatened to kill her.
There are several similarities in each of the calls, including the same 727 area code. Although that area code appears the call was made from Pinellas County, it is very likely that the call originated elsewhere, possibly out of the country.
This type of scam is meant to shock the victim into acting quickly to help a loved one who is in danger. The Sheriff's Office urges residents who may receive this scam phone call to follow these tips before making a snap decision: Stop and think, do not act in haste, verify the information by calling a relative, do not send money and call police.
Anyone with information on this scam should call the Fraud Line at 477-1242 or the Sheriff's Office main number at 477-1000.