The Ocala Police Department is warning area residents to be on the lookout for several phone scams.
In a social media post, OPD stated that a father recently stopped by the police department’s headquarters because he had received a phone call stating that his daughter was kidnapped. The father told officers that he needed to send ransom money to the caller.
The police department stated that the father was so upset due to the phone call that he did not think to contact his daughter. An OPD detective was able to reach the daughter and confirmed that she was safe. No money was sent to the scammer.
In another recent incident, a woman reached out to the police department to advise that she received a call from her utility company demanding an immediate payment of $510 or else her power would be disconnected in 30 minutes. OPD stated that the woman was directed to a bitcoin machine at a gas station, and she unfortunately lost her money when she paid the scammer.
According to OPD, scams like these are becoming more common, and too often people are getting their personal information or money stolen over the phone.
“We’ve heard all kinds of stories,” stated OPD on its Facebook page. One of those stories involved a caller who claimed to be an IRS agent and demanded immediate payment of taxes owed.
In another instance, a caller posed as a representative from a well-known technology company and claimed that the victim’s computer had a virus or malware. A third instance involved a caller who claimed that they were a law enforcement officer and the victim’s loved one was just arrested, and money was needed to bail them out of jail.
“To avoid falling victim to phone scams like these, it is essential to verify the caller’s identity before sharing any personal or financial information,” stated the Ocala Police Department. “If an unsolicited caller pressures you to provide personal information or make an immediate payment, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Hang up.”