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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wood, Donna

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 9/11/2012 

 Kidnapping Phone Scam Targets Hispanic Elderly 

“This is a disturbing new twist on an old scam,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.  “Instead of telling the potential victim their family member may need help, these criminals try to convince the victim their family members have been kidnapped and will be harmed unless the victim pays a ransom.”

On Monday, September 10, 2012, an elderly Polk County resident received one of these telephone calls on a cell phone.  The Hispanic victim described the male suspect as also being Hispanic and possibly having a Dominican accent.  He was possibly in his early to mid-30s, and the victim could hear Spanish being spoken in the background by several individuals.

The unknown caller advised he had the victim’s son, wife and grandchildren and the victim should do as instructed or the family would be harmed.  Another family member was able to contact the victim’s son and determined the call was a hoax.

During the investigation, PCSO detectives learned that approximately 30 victims in neighboring Osceola County have also received similar calls.

The suspects appear to be targeting elderly Hispanic adults, and demand the “ransom” money be wired to Puerto- Rico.

Sheriff Judd offers these tips:

  • There have been no “real” hostage cases in the Central Florida area; recent call’s like these have been a complete hoax.
  • Remain calm, pay close attention to the accent, demands and any sounds you may hear. 
  • Ask the caller to verify their claim by providing the name(s) of the family member(s) held.
  • Attempt to contact family members as quickly as possible to ensure their safety.
  • Contact law enforcement immediately.
  • Never agree to provide ransom money or meet anyone to deliver money.

If you have any information about the above investigation, please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863.298.6200.