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HCSO alerts parents to latest phone scam

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The father of a Hernando County school student was shaken to the core when he got a call that his child had been kidnapped. Now the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is warning parents about the latest plan by scammers to extort money from them.

According to the HCSO, on April 21 at 1:30 p.m., when his child was supposed to be in school, the father of a Hernando County school student received a telephone call from a phone with a Mexican country code.

When he answered the call, the man heard a child crying, “Dad, they have me.”

In response, the father called the child by name and asked if the youngster was alright.

Next, he heard the voice of a male caller who demanded an unspecified amount of money to save the child.

“I have your child,” the caller said while a child screamed in the background. “How much money do you have to see the child alive?”

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The call was disconnected just as the father attempted to respond.

To check on the child’s whereabouts, the father immediately called the HCSO Resource Deputy at the child’s school, who confirmed that the child was safe and in school.

“This appears to be a scam,” the HCSO said.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), scammers can use artificial intelligence software to convert text into speech in order to mimic a human voice.

Parents who receive such a call should avoid using their child’s name and should not give any personal or banking information to the caller, and should notify the HCSO immediately.

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