REDLANDS, Calif. - The Redlands Police Department is warning residents on social media about a recent scam primarily targeting Spanish speakers.
Victims have reported receiving phone calls from individuals posing as family members who claim to have been kidnapped by a foreign drug cartel. The alleged kidnapper will then get on the phone and demand money in exchange for the safe return of the family member, according to police.
"The victim may hear screaming in the background while the 'kidnapper' threatens to dismember or otherwise harm their relative," RPD wrote in their warning.
This scheme is a variation of other scams that exploit fear and a heightened sense of urgency.
Redlands Police offers residents the following advice:
Slow down and trust your gut. Scammers rely on your sense of urgency. Take your time to consider the facts. Is this really a family member? How can you be certain?
If you can't get hold of the family member who supposedly called, contact another family member or friend who might know more. Scammers typically ask you to keep the situation secret, but police advise you don't.
Don't provide the caller with any personal information. If scammers don't already have your personal information, they'll try to fish for details that they can use to convince you it's your family member.
Be cautious of requests for specific payment types. Scammers ask you to wire money, send gift cards, or use payment apps because they're difficult to trace and make it nearly impossible for you to get your money back.
If you receive a call like this, Redlands Police say to contact them or other law enforcement immediately.