ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford’s 911 Center is warning residents of a scam being reported locally in the Stateline area, in which scammers call potential victims claiming they have kidnapped a loved one.

Callers have reported hearing a woman crying in the background of the call, and then a man’s voice tells them “you’re loved one was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” and then demands a money order or a gift card.

The scammers also tell the victim not to call the police…or else, authorities reported.

The 911 Center says there are three ways to avoid falling victim to the scam:

  • Call your loved one in a three-way call while you are on the phone with the scammer, to verify they are safe.
  • Police suggest coming up with a family “safe word.”
  • Never send money to someone you don’t know, and only answer calls from phone number that you recognize.