Illinois State Police warns public of ‘hostage’ phone scam

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File photo via WSPA

METAMORA, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois State Police are warning the public about a new phone scam affecting Central Illinois Tuesday.

On Sept. 18., a District 8 Trooper took a report from a local resident claiming a scammer took their family member hostage.

The victim told troopers that the call came from an unknown number using a local area code. The scammer demanded a ransom.

“In the heat of the moment, these calls can be terrifying,” District 8 Commander Chad Peterson said. “Slowing down and taking a few additional steps could help you get out of a scam.”

The Federal Trade Commission has several steps you can take to stay ahead of scammers.

  • Spot Imposters – Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with.
  • Do Online Searches – Type a company or product name into the search engine with words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
  • Don’t Believe Your Caller ID Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real.
  • Don’t Pay Upfront for a Promise – Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job.
  • Consider How You Pay – Credit cards have significant fraud protection built-in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it is nearly impossible to get your money back. That is also true for reloadable gift cards.
  • Talk to Someone – Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you.
  • Sign up for Free Scam Alerts – You can sign up for automatic alerts from the FTC at Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
  • Do not hesitate to call 911 if you are ever involved in a scam.

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