Violent Phone Scams Put Residents On Alert

The fake hostage scam, which has surfaced multiple time within the last couple of months, is on the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s (HCSO) crime radar, and as the Economic Crime Detective Corporal Bruce Crumpler explained, it is in fact something that the department is closely looking into.

“Lately we have been seeing more of these violent type of a scams, like the most recent ones in Tampa, Temple Terrace and in Lutz,” Crumpler said, adding that HCSO has been seeing an increase of such fake hostage scams surfacing, but hope that residents will be vigilant and follow the advice as to the way to handle such call.

Crumpler explained that a caller may claim to have gotten into an altercation with the called person’s relative or loved one perhaps due to a traffic incident, and while making reference to possessing a weapon, will threaten to kill them unless he receives a certain amount of money.

“The caller wants you to remain on the line with them until you wire them some money,” he said.

While step number one is to call 911, that may be difficult to do due to a loved one’s life being threatened.  Crumpler emphasized that it is the only way for get help.

You should use another phone in the house or at a neighbor’s or a nearby store, and call the relative to verify the threat. “It’s an easy way to tell if the call is real or that it’s just a scam,” Crumpler said. “Despite the threats by the caller, a deputy can help you,” he said. “A deputy will be dispatched to help you before you make the next step.”

Within the last month, HCSO has received close to a dozen reports of this type of violent scam, although according to Crumpler, it has calmed down a bit over the past week or so.

“We are working closely with the Tampa Police Department (TPD) and local residents as our investigation continues,” he said.

For more information about scams please visit the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Website at www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.