WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Winter Haven Police Department wants the public to be aware of a rising phone scam that claims to involve the Mexican Cartel.
According to a press release, on September 19 a woman in Winter Haven received a call from a man with an international number. Police say he claimed to have information on her daughter being in a car accident.
The man said the daughter's information needed to be verified, and police say the woman gave him the information due to the urgent nature of the call.
Police say the man then demanded the woman go to Western Union and wire $1,000 to a listing in Mexico. He claimed the daughter was being held hostage by the Mexican Cartel, according to the release.
The woman went to the bank while still on the phone with the scammer and sent them $350. Police say the man told the woman she wouldn't hear from her daughter again if she disconnected the call. The release says the woman also reported hearing what sounded like a female voice in the background yelling, "mommy help."
The man demanded more money and the victim sent all she had and the call ended, police say.
The woman immediately called her daughter and found out she was safe with her husband in Orlando. Police say she asked Western Union if the transfer could be stopped but she was told no.
"This type of coercion is unthinkable," said Public Safety Director and Police Chief Charlie Bird. "And the worst part is it is extremely difficult to trace these types of scams and bring people to justice."
Police say if anyone gets a call like this to disconnect and call authorities right away with the phone number and any names, if given.