It is known to police as the "grandparent scam."
People calling the elderly, trying to dupe them out of thousands of dollars over the phone by telling them a loved one is in trouble and they need money quick.
It used to be grandparents getting the call about their grandchildren.
Now, Springfield police tell CBS 3 the calls are targeting the Spanish-speaking community.
"They will call potential victims on the telephone and say your son has just been in an accident, and you need to wire money right away, or we have your brother kidnapped," said Sgt. John Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William Fitchet.
Delaney said the phone scam has picked up this week, with his office receiving four calls in the last three days. He believes there are two words that should trigger the thought of a scam.
"If citizens hear the words Western Union, you have to realize someone is trying to scam you," said Delaney, who was able to save two different families from being duped Thursday.
"They hit the panic button and were about to send the money to Western Union," said Delaney. "I told them to stop, do not do it, you are being scammed."
Police believe the scammers are local due to the information they are giving the intended victims.
"They mentioned Fernbank Road a couple of times, about a gang out there," Delaney stated. "But there is no gang on Fernbank Road. It is a gang they are making up, but some people are almost falling for it."
Phone scams present different challenges for investigators, but Delaney is confident they will find out who is involved.
"We have phone numbers, we are following it," said Delaney. "We are doing our investigation and hopefully these people that prey on people's fears will be caught and brought to justice."
Delaney said it is typical for the scammers to demand anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 or more.
Copyright 2012 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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