Santa Cruz County Residents have recently been the victim of a phone scam. The victims received a phone call from a person claiming to have abducted one of their family members. During one of these calls the scammers called from the 811 area code.
Investigating Deputies believe that the scammers are using the victim’s social media accounts to gain information about family members prior to making the calls.
During the call, the scammer will typically have a person screaming in the background and asking for help. The scammer informs the victim that they must go to a CVS Pharmacy to purchase a Green DOT card (Reloadable Debit Cards) for the safe release of their family member. The scammer sets a dollar amount that must be loaded onto the Green Dot Card. The victim then supplies the scammer with the Green DOT card information and the money is withdrawn from the card. The victims later learned that their family members were never in any danger.
Scammers like to use the Green DOT card method because the transactions tend to be untraceable. More information on Green DOT card scams can be located on the Internet. In this recent scam, the suspects are calling from a phone number associated to Mexico.
With reports of virtual kidnapping on the rise around the country, here are some tips to help people avoid becoming a victim of these frightening scams:
- Incoming calls come from an outside area code or from these area codes: 811, 787, 939 and 856.
- Calls do not come from the alleged kidnapped victim’s phone.
- Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone with them while demanding ransom.
- Callers prevent you from calling or locating the alleged kidnapped victim.
- Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer.
- Law enforcement also suggests taking the following actions:
- Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
- Request the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
- If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle they drive.
- Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak.
- Try to call, text, or contact the victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
- While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
- To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
- Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
- If you believe your family member is the victim of a real kidnapping, call 911 immediately.
Please contact Sheriff Office Dispatch at 831-471-1121, to report any scams or suspicious phone calls.