The Tallahassee Police Department is warning community members to be aware of a new phone scam in the area. In this version of the scam, an international caller will identify themselves as a member of the "Mexican Mafia" and threaten to harm a relative, who usually lives in another part of the state or country. The caller claims they have kidnapped a loved one and will harm them if a ransom is not paid immediately, all the while using profanity and threatening language.
In reality the "kidnapped" family member is safe and sound and nowhere near the kidnappers, but the scammer uses another actor to portray the kidnapped person, screaming and crying into the phone, pleading "To just give them what they want!", further convincing the called family member their loved one is facing imminent harm. The scammer then demands the victim of the scam to go to an ATM and withdraw money, purchase gift cards or provide bank account information. These phone calls can continue for hours with the scammers threatening immediate harm if they hang-up, inform other relatives or call the authorities. The scammers will also try to coerce the loved one to provide phone numbers for other relatives so they can call them and demand money from them.
The TPD Criminal Investigation Division urges anyone who receives these calls to immediately call 911 and report the crime. The threat of violence against anyone is a crime TPD will earnestly pursue to locate and arrest the suspects. Citizens may also call (850) 891-4200 to report the crime.