The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office is advising people to be aware of a scam that is currently going around and is believed to have international ties.

These calls are primarily targeting the elderly, who are told they have to send money via Western Union or a Walmart Green Dot Bank card. Investigation of the contact phone numbers being given the targeted residents shows the calls have an international origin.

The sheriff’s office has received a half-dozen reports about this scam, which involves an unknown suspect calling a resident and demanding money. The majority of the demands have said the intended victim’s grandchild is in jail and needs bail money; however, one of the demands said the intended victim’s granddaughter had been taken and a ransom had to be sent before she would be returned.

All of the targets subsequently contacted their family members and learned there was no incident and their grandchildren were OK; however, one of them did not do so until after he had sent money to the scammer. The sheriff’s office advises that anyone who receives such a phone call to contact their family members first before responding to the demand.

The sheriff’s office is asking that people please spread the word that this scam is occurring and, if someone gets a phone call of this nature, to contact family members before sending any money anywhere. People need to be leery of anyone who calls and demands money, including if the voice on the phone says they’re with law enforcement. Law enforcement does not call people and demand they send money via Western Union or a Walmart Green Dot Bank card – that is not how law enforcement operates, Brown said.

“Again, if you receive such a call – before you do anything – you need to contact family members and determine their whereabouts,” Brown said. “If they’re OK, you can ignore the call as having come from a scammer. If there is a reason you believe the call is legitimate, you need to contact your law enforcement agency and get them involved.”