News Detail

Hostage Phone Scams in N.J. Has Police Urging Residents to Beware

  February 18, 2013.

Police are asking N.J. residents to report any suspicious phone calls after a caller attempted to extort $800 from a Fair Lawn man by claiming to have kidnapped his brother-in-law.

The caller told the man he had his brother-in-law held hostage, and demanded $800 as a ransom. The caller made him stay on the phone as he went to a Chase bank to withdraw the cash.

Authorities said the victim handed notes to a Chase bank teller to alert the police after he left. Fair Lawn Police Sergeant Richard Schultz said to CBS New York, “He started writing notes to the teller, ‘the person on the phone has my brother, ransom, hostage, please call the police when I leave.’”

The police came to the bank thinking there was a robbery in progress.

Schultz said the teller triggered the holdup alarm after receiving the first note. Schultz said, according to, “Fearing that the alleged hostage taker would hear her talking with bank security, she abruptly hung up the phone when they called, triggering the initial bank robbery report."

The victim was released after police confirmed that his brother-in-law had not been harmed. Schultz said the department shortly received similar calls of kidnapping for ransom reports.

In an earlier incident, Fair Lawn-Saddle Brook Patch reported that police said someone called a local woman demanding money after claiming that her brother had been in an accident. The woman received a call from her brother telling her he was fine before she could send the money.

The calls are still under investigation, but police said the two cell phones used in the scams had Chicago and Maryland area codes.