by Sue Ann Rybak

Police are warning residents about a telephone scam demanding that people hand over money in exchange for a loved one that the scammers claim has been abducted.

Officer Robert Mahan told the Chestnut Hill Local that the scammers are primarily targeting businesses in Chestnut Hill, claiming that their loved one has been abducted or will be abducted unless they stay on the phone and complete a money transfer or withdraw money from a nearby ATM.

In similar scams, the caller often insists that the victim stay on the phone while they complete the money transfer or ATM withdrawal. The act of keeping the caller on the phone prevents the victim from calling the police.

Mahan said he thinks the scammers are getting phone numbers off businesses’ websites and then searching for names of family members on social media websites like Facebook and Instagram.

If residents do receive a phone call, they should hang up and, after checking, make sure their family member is safe, then call the police to file a report.

He reminded people to always be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or vehicles. Mahan suggested that parents remind children about being aware of their surroundings, especially now that many schools are back in session.

To report a scam, call The 14th District Philadelphia Police Department at 215-686-3140.