Hostage might not be a hostage, police say

If some­body tries to con­vince you that a re­l­at­ive or friend is be­ing held host­age and wants money in ex­change for free­dom, check with the so-called “host­age.” He or she might be free and un­aware of what’s go­ing on.

Po­lice say it’s is a scam, and it’s been pulled on sev­er­al vic­tims.

One vic­tim was a Phil­adelphia Gas Works em­ploy­ee who got a text mes­sage on a PGW cell phone that a fam­ily mem­ber had been taken host­age, po­lice said.

The PGW work­er was told that a fam­ily mem­ber had been in­volved in an auto ac­ci­dent with the text’s sender.

“The un­known sender of the text also stated that he had taken this fam­ily mem­ber host­age, and provided a cell phone num­ber in or­der to be reached,” po­lice said in a news re­lease. “When the vic­tim dialed the provided num­ber, an un­known male in­formed the vic­tim that the fam­ily mem­ber would be killed if he did not wire $1,500 through West­ern Uni­on to a male in New York. The vic­tim was also ordered to re­main on the phone while wir­ing the money, and not to con­tact po­lice.”

The “host­age” was loc­ated un­harmed — and un­aware of the in­cid­ent, po­lice said.

Two ad­di­tion­al PGW em­ploy­ees re­ceived the same text mes­sage on their com­pany cell phones, po­lice said. 

Po­lice are ask­ing any­one who re­ceives the mes­sage not to re­spond and to im­me­di­ately call 911. ••

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