Phone scam terrified Pasco County victims

Caller tells parents they have kidnapped children

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - The calls are coming from a number registered to a Jose Rodriguez in Ohio.

But they've been traced to Puerto Rico.

The Pasco Sheriff's Office says two victims were called last week by someone claiming they had their children held hostage.

"They are identifying themselves as gang bangers or drug dealers." said Pasco detective Chris Meizo.

In one case, the so-called drug dealer told a Spring Hill man his son had rear-ended him and he was holding him in a basement until money was sent.

 A Land O'Lakes mother got a similar call threatening her 19-year-old son.

The caller doesn't give the victims a chance to confirm if any kidnapping really happened.

"They are just keeping them on the phone, feeding into the fear, saying if they don't cooperate they will be injured or they will be killed," said Meizo.

The Spring Hill victim gave the caller numbers from a pre-paid phone card, but realized it was a scam before sending any cash.

The woman in Land O'Lakes did send $300 through Western Union. She was told her son would be dropped off at the Medical Center of Trinity. When she got there no one showed up. She eventually found out her son was ok.

Investigators are still looking into how the callers are picking their victims.

"At this point we don't know if it's a network intrusion to one of the cell phone carriers or if they are calling random telephone numbers," said Meizo.

The Sheriff's Office says if you get one of these calls, do what you can to get in touch with family members and don't send money. Then report it to law enforcement.

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