There's yet another new telephone scam that is working its way across Louisiana. It's called "The Hostage" phone scam and it works like this. Scammers call their unsuspecting victims using a process known as "spoofing". Spoofing makes the call appear as if it is coming from a familiar or local number.

Once the call has been answered the scammer tells the potential victim that a loved one has been taken as a hostage or is in great danger or has been injured in an accident and the only way they can be helped is if money is sent immediately. The scammer usually requests payment in the form of a gift card or a wire transfer.

The urgency of the call, the familiar look of the phone number on the caller ID, and the brazen tactics of the scammers have caused hundreds if not thousands of people to fall victim to the scam.

Attorney General Jeff Landry's office has prepared some advice in the form of tips that you and I can use and should certainly share with older members of our families who are the most likely targets for this type of scam.

  • 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.