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Telephone Extortion Scam Reported In Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s detectives say they’ve seen a rash of telephone extortion attempts in the county during the last few weeks.

Investigators say someone will contact a family member by phone, and claim one of their relatives has been kidnapped when that isn’t the case. They’ll demand payment for the release of the victim. To make it appear real, they will sometimes use co-conspirators by having someone screaming for help in the background. The extortion efforts are often well planned, with the caller claiming to be part of a drug cartel, or a corrupt law enforcement officer.

They often use social media to learn about their victim, and demand wire transfers for the safe return of the so-called victim. Detectives say if you get a call of this type, hang up the phone, contact family members, and notify law enforcement.