Milwaukee Police send Warning about Hostage Telephone Scam

The Milwaukee Police Department is sending a warning about disturbing trend that's on the rise: the hostage scam.

"They immediately tell the person they're calling not to hang up the phone, otherwise they'll execute a hostage," said Milwaukee Police Capt. David Salazar.

The scammer describes that hostage as a family member, someone who was likely found on social media.

Milwaukee police say posting personal information online is an easy way for con artists to set up a trap.

"I know that your daughter goes to xyz school," Salazar said. "I know that she has blond hair, she's got blue eyes because they're looking at your profile picture of your daughter."

Police said the calls usually come from this number: (631) 827-1544.

That area code covers the New York area, but Captain Salazar said it actually traces back to a place out of the U.S.

"The suspects we've been seeing use the scam have a thick Latin American accent," he said.

The suspect ultimately demands cash, a small dollar amount that is easily wire transferred out of the country where MPD has no jurisdiction.

But, a few criminal cases are underway. The most recent involves an adult in their early 20's who fell for the hostage hoax.

"Obviously it's a judgment call," Salazar said. "The most important thing is start looking at what you're putting out there as far as on the internet and locking down your accounts."

Milwaukee police said there have been half a dozen victims in the last month alone. Anyone who gets a call like this should hang up and contact the department immediately.

The Better Business Bureau has a new website to help you identify and track a ripoff.

The scam tracker shows what scams are showing up in your area and let's you report people trying to scam you. Check it out by clicking here.

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