Eastern Long Island residents are being hit with an old telephone scam that plays upon the potential victim's concern for a loved one, police warned Wednesday.
Southampton Town Police Sgt. Michael Burns said, "They'll say something like, 'We have your brother' or 'We have your sister. Don't hang up the phone, but you better send $300 now.' "
The caller may go on to say that the relative owes money for damage done in a car accident or for some other debt, and is now in physical danger if someone doesn't pay, Burns said in a telephone interview.
There have been at least eight or 10 reports of the scam being tried in Southampton Town within the past three days, Burns said, and similar incidents have been seen in all the other East End towns within the past week.
"It's not a new type of scam, but the strange thing is, they seem to be concentrating on eastern Long Island and a lot of the targets are Hispanic," Burns said.
Authorities advised those targeted not to dismiss the threats, but do not send money or provide any personal information. They advise that the caller's number be documented and the potential victim should immediately call 911 for further instructions.
"Several people have fallen for it, and sent money," Burns said, "but we don't know how many people were affected by it and have not reported it."
Southampton Town police asked that anyone with information about this scam call them at 631-728-5000, the detective unit at 631-702-2230, or the Crime Hotline at 631-728-3454. An email may also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.