Police in South San Francisco are warning the public about a phone scam reported by several residents over the past few months.
Investigators say the scam artists contact residents and pretend to be an officer or public official calling on behalf of a resident being held in jail in a foreign country.
Police said the countries most commonly named by the scam artists are Canada, the Dominican Republic or countries in Central America.
The scammers typically say the family member has been arrested for drunken driving or another crime, and then say they need money to get that person out of jail, police said.
Victims have sent thousands of dollars via Western Union believing they were helping their loved ones, police said.
Elderly residents are often targeted by the phone scam artists, but all residents are being warned against the scheme.
Police advise residents who receive such a phone call to obtain as much information as possible from the caller and confirm the information with other family members before sending any money.
Any questions can be directed to South San Francisco police at (650) 877-8900.
-Bay City News