AG warns of new phone ‘hostage’ scam

Published 4:35 am Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Attorney General Jeff Landry is warning Louisiana residents about a frightening new phone scam that has been recently reported in Louisiana and beyond.

This scam involves con artists calling and threatening immediate harm to family members or other loved ones if the scammers are not sent money. In some instances, the con artists spoof the family member or friend’s phone number so it appears on the Caller ID.

“Scams like this are designed to frighten consumers into hastily sending their money to the callers,” Landry said. “Anyone who receives calls like this should contact local law enforcement immediately.”

The stories used by con artists in this type of scam can vary. Some try to scare consumers into cooperating by claiming to be drug dealers or gang members who have taken a loved one hostage and others claim the loved one has been injured in an accident and demand money to pay for life-saving medical care.

Landry offers the following tips to avoid falling victim to this type of scams:

  • Immediately reach out to the family member or friend supposedly in harm by phone, text, social media, or another method. If you cannot reach him or her, check with other family and friends who may be able to verify his or her safety.
  • Do not act right away, no matter how dramatic the story is. Ask for more information that can be used to verify the situation.
  • Be careful about what you post on social media. If your personal details are public, someone can use them to scam you and the people who care about you.
  • Do not give out personal or financial information to a stranger over the phone, and especially without verifying the person’s identity.
  • Never send money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or any other wire service to a stranger; and especially without verifying the person’s identity.
  • Do not purchase gift or money cards for the purpose of providing the cards’ numbers to someone else.
  • Once again, contact your local law enforcement as soon as you receive a call like the ones described above.

For more consumer information and tips, visit online at or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.