SAVANNAH, GA. (March 4, 2016): Financial Crimes detectives have been alerted of two recent phone scams reoccurring in the Savannah area and urge residents to take heed of warning signs in order to avoid being victimized.

The first scam involves callers claiming to hold a victim’s sibling hostage and demanding a ransom in exchange for their freedom. In the second scam, a caller claims a victim’s sibling was at-fault in a fatal motor vehicle accident; and in exchange for a fee, police action can be avoided.

Since Feb. 28, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police received notice of at least seven variations of these scams. Some of the calls originated from an Atlanta area code.

In these cases, scammers are usually extremely aggressive in pressuring victims to pay. Scammers may also threaten arrests or other forms of legal action if victims refuse their demands. Often scams such as these originate in other countries, making suspects difficult to trace.

“The important thing is for victims to trust their instincts,” said Sgt. Jeramy Henry of SCMPD’s Financial Crimes Unit. “If unsolicited callers are demanding payment, making questionable demands that make you uncomfortable or seem outlandish, disconnect and call police. Don’t provide payment or any of your personal information when you have doubts.”

SCMPD recommends the following practices to avoid falling victim to such crimes:

  • Before sending any form of payment, contact the family member using familiar methods to verify such claims. Do not contact family members by phone numbers provided by callers.
  • Avoid providing funds through wire transfers or money cards.
  • Never verify your family member’s personal information or your own.
  • Listen closely for discrepancies in personal information the caller may have obtained about you. Always ask for more details. Allow inaccuracies in this information to serve as red flags.
  • When possible, get the caller’s name and contact information before disconnecting.
  • Notify law enforcement immediately. Document the encounter with a police report.
  • React thoughtfully, never in haste.

For more information contact the SCMPD Financial Crimes Unit at (912) 651-6735.