Springfield Police Investigate Phone Extortion Scam

Springfield police are investigating a growing telephone scam targeting city residents.  In the calls, the scammers claim a family member is being held for a cash ransom, or has been involved in an accident and money needs to be wired right away.

Police spokesman John Delaney says during the past several weeks, his department has been inundated by victims who have been contacted by unknown callers on their cell phones.

“On one occasion, I was walking down the hallway when I was approached by a woman and her family,” Delaney says. “They were in tears, actually. They thought their dad and her husband was being held captive somewhere, and [the caller] wanted $10,000 brought to their abductors before the person was released.”

Delaney says the claims so far have been false. The callers initially targeted Spanish-speaking residents, but now target the entire community. And he says the callers are using personal information about their victims to sound believable.

“There’s a lot of information out there that people aren’t careful with, through social media pages and things of that nature. We believe that’s how they’re getting information about their victims,” Delaney says.

Delaney says he’s heard from other western Massachusetts police departments who have received similar complaints.

He says anybody receiving such a call should tell the scammer they’re contacting police immediately, then hang up and call authorities.