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Tampa officer warns of phone scam demanding money in exchange for relative's safety

Scammers demand $5K from his grandfather
This new phone scam uses a text from your bank to fool you
Posted at 9:00 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 23:17:39-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa police officer is warning others about a familiar scam after his grandfather received a phone call earlier this month.

Corporal Jaron Howell said scammers called his grandfather on his landline phone in November.

"My grandfather was actually contacted by a scammer and it involved me. He said scammers told him, 'we have your grandson. He's in jail in Georgia. He hit a pregnant woman. We need you to send $5,000 in order for him to be released,'" said Cpl. Jaron Howell.

Cpt. Howell said the Tampa Police Department took four reports regarding a similar scam.

"In the past few weeks, we've had an uptick in calls."

TPD said one case involved an elderly victim who received a call that the cartel had her daughter and was going to hurt her if the victim did not pay them. During the phone call, the victim could hear what sounded like a girl in the background, crying and asking for her mother.

In another call, the caller said he had the victim's children. The caller stated he was watching her and he would hurt them if she did not wire over money.

TPD is urging people not to wire over any money.

"Hang up the phone. Call somebody to verify it's not true and do not send any money. Do not send whatever they're requesting because it's a scam," said Cpl. Howell.

Cpl. Howell said scammers target elderly victims and prey on their emotions.

"My grandfather knowing him, he probably would have sent it. He was smart. He hung up the phone and called my mother, who in turn called me just to verify. She called him back saying 'no that's not true,'" said Cpl. Howell.

If you receive a call, please contact a local police department. Also, report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.