Criminals Fake Medical Emergency to Con Residents

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Officials said criminals are using an elaborate phone scheme to target residents and con them out of their credit card information.

Janice Merrell received a phone call from someone who asked if anyone close to her was traveling, NBC 4 's Mike Bowersock reported.

"I was told that somebody close to me had been in a horrible accident," she said.

Merrell told the caller that her parents were traveling.

"I spoke to supposedly one of the medics who was treating my father and told me they needed to be life-flighted," she said.

In order to airlift her father to the hospital, the person said, they needed a credit card number. The person told her that she needed to provide them with the information immediately, or her father could die.

"I do work in the medical field and I know that under no circumstance do they deny medical treatment waiting on a payment," she said.

Meanwhile, another person had called Merrell's parents. She had provided their name and phone number to someone who she was told was a police officer at the scene.

A man claiming to be from a phone company told the Merrells that there were technical problems on the line and instructed them to not answer their phone for the next 30 minutes.

So when Merrell called her parents to check on them, there was no answer, leading her to believe that the story was legit.

Merrell contacted her brother, who called the Merrells on their cell phone.

The family didn't fall for the scheme, but they wondered what could happen to other people who received a similar phone call.

Merrell's cell phone company said the scheme is a common ploy used on the east coast, but that this is the first reported instance of the scheme being used in the Midwest.