Police in Santa Cruz are warning the public to beware of a kidnapping scam after three families were almost swindled over the weekend.
The victims say a person called and claimed family members had been kidnapped and would be returned safely only after a cash payment.
A male caller calls the victim by their last or first name and says, "This is a kidnapping. Listen to my instructions. We are holding your family members hostage. Send me money or you will never see your family members again."
Officers say the calls were proven to be a hoax when those family members were found to be safe.
Investigators say the calls came from blocked or restricted numbers. They advise that anyone who receives a similar call should contact police immediately.
Police said they believe the scam is a version of the Virtual Kidnapping Scam.
The FBI suggests residents avoid the pressure to act in haste when receiving a call of this sort and never wire money over the phone or by email, especially overseas. Wiring money is the same as giving someone cash. Once it's given, it's gone.
Bay City News contributed to this report.