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Posted on: February 28, 2023

Phone & Text Kidnapping Scams



Marshalltown community members have received suspicious calls that have been identified as scams. These calls were first reported to police on February 27. Here is how the scam works:

The victim receives a phone call from an unknown person claiming that a relative is in trouble, and if the victim ever wants to see their loved one again, the victim needs to do as instructed. One victim was left with the impression their loved one had been kidnapped. The victim heard screaming in the background of the phone call. One victim was instructed to bring $2,000.00 to a local store and wait for further instructions. The victim was ordered not to talk to anyone about any of this. One victim received this suspicious call from 641.646.4732. The suspect was speaking in Spanish. The suspect may have used the names “Guillermo” or “Oscar Hernandez” as part of the scam call.

A disturbing twist on the scam involves text messages that include violent photos of dismembered bodies. The sender makes threats to harm a loved one and sends pictures of dismembered bodies or violent scenes. The suspect may claim to know you. The suspect has claimed to be a member of a Mexican drug cartel.

These types of scams are all too common. The criminals making these calls, or sending these texts, can be very convincing. They are preying on your fear and your love for family members or friends. They will demand that you not tell anyone about these communications. They will tell you not to call the police. These are clear signals that these are scams. You should hang up right away and call the police. In Marshalltown, you can call the 24/7 dispatch number at 641.754.5725.

AUTHORITY: Michael W. Tupper, Chief of Police ( or 641.754.5771)

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