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Sheriff warns residents of theatening scam

Monday, January 28, 2013

A recent emergence of a scam involving threats of violence has law enforcement officials concerned.

Saline County Sheriff Wally George issued an alert Monday, Jan. 28, calling attention to a scam he heard about from the sheriff of Crawford County.

In three separate Crawford County incidents, residents received calls on their cell phones in which a male subject threatened to shoot a member of their family unless they wired money to him. The calls originated from Illinois, George said.

In all three cases, the relatives were found to be safe.

"It appears to be a new scam to extort money from honest citizens," George said. "I understand Crawford County is a fair distance from Saline County, but I am concerned enough about the threat of violence to extort money that I at least wanted our people to be aware of this new and violent scam."

George said anyone in the county who receives such a call should notify his office at 660-886-5511 immediately so the incident can be reported to the FBI, which is investigating the Crawford County cases.

The Hannibal Courier-Post is reporting a similar case in that northeast Missouri town. According to a story published by the Associated Press, scammers are trying to convince people they must pay money so they won't become the target of a murder-for-hire plot.

The Courier-Post (http://bit.ly/X2jdMB) reports that the scam starts with an email, warning the recipient that a murder contract has been issued. But the email says the "hit man" will ignore the contract if the target pays a certain amount of money.

Detective Tyler Wheeler of the Marion County Sheriff's Department describes the ruse as "a real sick way of scamming people," according to the AP story.

Wheeler says the email threats appeared in the county for the first time Friday. He says scammers sought to collect about $8,000.

Authorities determined that the threatening emails in that case originated overseas.

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

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