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SCAM ALERT: 'Your loved one is in danger'

Posted at 2:16 PM, May 04, 2016

They are slick. They are clever. And they are very convincing.

Quick-talking scammers are trying to rip off bay area residents by telling them their loved ones are in immediate danger and if they don't send money right away they may never see them again.

It's one big scam, but the caller is armed with so much information, the people on the other end of the phone are falling for it.

ABC Action News reporter Ryan Raiche received a call just last week from a man claiming his brother hit his brand new BMW and if he didn't pay thousands of dollars right away he would never see his brother again.

Raiche doesn't have a brother, but played along and said he did to see how far the scammer would go.

The caller hung up when he said he was a reporter.

Another Tampa-area family received a very similar call Tuesday. The caller seemed legit because they knew -- or guessed -- what kind of car the loved one was driving.  

The man told the family the wife was in a bad accident. He asked if the car was white.

This family who we aren't identifying begged the man on the other line with a 305 area code to call 911, but he said he doesn't get involved with the cops. 

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says more than likely, they're just guessing and kept calling people until they got the color of the car correct.

Or in some cases, scammers find pertinent information off social media.

"Facebook is a great source for these scammers. A lot of people will post their phone numbers, their dates of births, they have pictures of their families," said Det. Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "Then once they call you it seems really legit because they have a lot of information."

For the bay area family, the voice was so convincing that people were hurt they went to CVS to begin to wire money. Sara's father quietly told the family to get authorities to respond to CVS with them. 

Within 45 minutes, deputies arrived on scene and told the family it was likely a scam. They did not wire any money.