MGN Online

Charlotte County, Fla. --  Sheriff Bill Prummell is warning residents that scam artists have put a couple of different twists on some phone calls to try to coerce people to send them money.

Since the beginning of September, deputies have responded to several complaints in various areas of Charlotte County to speak with residents who have a similar story.  The residents have told deputies they received phone calls from a man who claimed that some relative of the resident was involved in a traffic crash with a member of a gang.  The man has told them their relative was taken hostage by the gang member and the gang member wanted money before he would release the relative.  In at least five of the reports, the phone calls were placed from the same Massachusetts area phone number.

To date, nobody has reported sending any money to the caller.  In some instances, the resident has kept the man on the phone while using a different phone to call the relative in question.  Others have simply hung up on the caller because they did not have any such relative as the caller mentioned.

The Sheriff’s Office received four similar reports on Wednesday and one on Sunday. 

Today, two more reports of phone scams were received.  One complaint involved the caller threatening the resident with taking them to court unless the resident sent them money.  Another involved the more typical scam in which the caller told the resident they won a lottery and needed to send some money up front to cover expenses.

Other variations of such phone scams have been to pose as the resident’s relative who was in trouble in another state and ask for money for some reason.

“If someone calls to try to extort money from you in this way, you definitely should call local law enforcement to report it,” Sheriff Prummell said.  “These are just different twists to the same old game of trying to trick or scare people into sending them money.  Don’t fall for it.”