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Police warn residents about phone scams

Posted on Monday, April 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Local police are warning citizens about a pair of phone scams that have already affected Osceola County residents.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has reported that two citizens have received calls about a jury duty phone scam. The caller has identified himself as a lieutenant with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and said a warrant has been issued for missing jury duty. The caller makes arrangements for them to provide payment by purchasing a pre-paid money card. In both instances, the individuals purchased the pre-paid money cards and provided the numbers to the suspect, Sheriff’s spokesperson Twis Lizasuain said.

Aside from some general guidelines, like never giving out personal information when receiving an unsolicited phone call and not making arrangements to provide payment when an unfamiliar caller asks you for money, the Sheriff’s Office warns that it does not contact individuals regarding jury duty. The Ninth Judicial Circuit Court oversees jury duty services, and advises the public to contact Osceola County Jury Services with any concerns at 407-742-2421.

Anyone with information, who or has received a similar call, is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 407-348-2222 or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477).

Also, the Kissimmee Police Department is warning residents of a kidnapping scam that is still occurring targeting Hispanic citizens that surfaced earlier in the year. Detectives have received 39 reports of the scam since January, and 18 reports this month, from citizens who have received a call in Spanish informing them that a family member has been involved in an accident and has been kidnapped.

The caller demands ransom money from the citizen and threatens to further harm the family member if the demands are not met. The caller further instills dear demanding the victim stay on the phone or the family member will be killed.

Of the 18 reports taken this month, 6 victims have provided the ransom the caller is requesting, KPD spokesperson Stacie Miller said.

Those who receive a similar call should remain calm and contact the family member immediately to ensure they are safe, officials say. Call law enforcement immediately if unable to contact the family member, and do not agree to provide ransom money or meet anyone to deliver ransom money. Detectives are also asking the public to attempt to verify the caller’s claim by requesting the name of the abducted family member.

Detectives are urging citizens to report the incident immediately, even after verifying the family member is safe.

When reporting the incident, be ready to provide confirmation the family member is safe, specific demands the caller made, gender and accent of the caller, date, time and location the caller arranged for the ransom to be paid.

Anyone who receives a similar calls or has information on these types of calls is asked to contact the Kissimmee Police Department’s Economic Crimes Unit at 407-846-3333, e-mail at seeitsayit@kissimmee.org, or call Crimeline. Calls made to Crimeline remain anonymous, and tips that lead to the felony arrest of suspects and/or the recovery of stolen property and drugs are eligible for cash rewards of up to $1,000.

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