Ransom Money Phone Scam Warning

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MADISON TWP., Ohio – Police are warning people about a phone scam where a caller pretends to have abducted a family member and is demanding ransom money.

Fox 8 spoke with one man who got one of the calls.

"(The caller said), 'Hey, listen, your wife was in an accident. We have her tied up on the basement. We have her at gunpoint. If you hang up, if you call the cops, that I'll put a bullet in her face,'" Bob said.

Bob is one of an unknown number of people who got a call from the cruel con artist in the last few weeks

"They knew my wife's name.  They knew my son's name," Bob said.

Luckily, he had a second phone handy and called his wife.

"I made sure she was fine and was at work and I hung up the phone," Bob said.

Bob later learned the scammer had previously tricked his son into revealing details about the family - which made it seem all the more real.

"It's a scam. It's a total hoax," Madison Twp. Police Ofc. Rob Hess said.

Hess said the scammer, who has a thick accent, also likely gets information about people and their family over the internet before calling.

"One of the incidents I had yesterday was this gentleman had received a phone call that they had his 15-year-old son locked in a basement and they were threatening to cause him harm unless he sent them $1,500," Hess said.

Police do not know of anyone locally who has actually given the scammer money.

He has been calling from a number with a 440 area code.

Police say this scam has also reached into in Geneva and Ashtabula.

Police do not want people to panic if they get a call from a supposed kidnapper demanding ransom for a loved one.

"Just hang up on them," Hess said.

Then call police.

Hess said the caller may be using a computer program that makes it appear he is local, but he may not be in the area.