Latest News & Events in and around Auburndale
Winter Haven Police want to warn the public about a phone scam that is rising to a different level including threats involving the Mexican Cartel.
On 9-19-2020, a Winter Haven citizen received a phone call from an international number around 11:30 a.m. The male caller claimed to have information about her daughter being in a traffic crash and the daughter’s information needed to be verified. Unfortunately, the mother gave information due to the urgent nature of the caller.
At that point, the tone of the call changed drastically. The caller then demanded the mother go to Western Union to wire $1,000 immediately because her daughter was being held hostage by the Mexican Cartel. The instructions were to send money to a listing in Mexico.
Frantic, the mother went to Western Union while the caller was still on the phone. The caller told her that if she disconnected the call she won’t hear from her daughter again. The mother did send $350, but the caller demanded more and threatened harm again to her daughter. The mother also heard what sounded like a female screaming “mommy help!” in the background. She sent the only remaining money she had and the call ended.
Once the call was disconnected, she immediately called her daughter’s cell phone only to find out that she was safe and with her husband spending the day in Orlando. Relieved her daughter was in fact okay, she then asked Western Union if the transmittal could be stopped, but was told no.
“This type of coercion is unthinkable,” said Public Safety Director and Police Chief Charlie Bird. “And the worst part is it is extremely difficult to trace these types of scams and bring people to justice.”
Authorities warn citizens that these tactics are used to put victims in a position of total fear. If anyone receives this type of call, as hard as it may seem, disconnect and call law enforcement immediately with the phone number the call came from and any names associated, if given.
Happy Grandparents Day to all of the very special people in our lives! Make sure you call your grandparents today! ❤️
Polk County is an Amazon hub of sorts for the Sunshine State. The online retail giant is set to open its fourth facility in the county, in Auburndale. It’s set to also bring 500 jobs to the city.
The truth is, we could post a scam alert every single day on this page. We actually have a page on our website dedicated to scams, to which we often direct citizens:

But today we wanted to highlight some recent scams that have already victimized a couple of our citizens, and we want you to SHARE so that nobody else here in #Polk or anywhere else on the Interwebs falls prey.

Have you ever heard of bitcoin? Yeah, us either. Our detectives have though, and this phenomenon has made its way to Polk. Two different elderly victims have been called by people claiming to be PCSO Sergeants. The caller told the victims that they had active warrants, and the victims were instructed to bring cash to a bitcoin machine in order to "clear up the warrant." Bitcoin machines can be found in convenience stores.

Luckily for one victim, the alert and savvy convenience store owner intervened when she heard the 80-year-old victim on his cell phone trying to work the machine - the owner got the rest of the story, and told the victim to hang up, because he was being scammed. By the way, that owner is our new favorite Polk Countian.

Our second victim was not so lucky - he went to a different gas station, and quietly placed the requested $1,500 cash into the machine, unbeknownst to that clerk who was likely busy providing excellent customer services to his customers.

The bottom line is this - we are NEVER EVER EVER EVER going to call you and tell you that you have a warrant for missing jury duty, or for any other reason, and THEN we are NEVER EVER EVER going to call you and instruct you to pay us to clear up the warrant.

This is not victim-shaming -- this is for YOU who have elderly relatives, who aren't on Facebook or the Interwebs, so that you can let them know NOT TO FALL FOR THIS SCAM.

And if you'll visit our website (link above) you'll find a lot more helpful information on other prevalent scams, and how to report them.
Happy Labor Day 🇺🇸 Thank you to the men & women serving our country & allowing us the freedom to celebrate today.
The Auburndale Public Library has a lot of new interactive items available for check out! The Storytime Box is a set of fun activities that your child would experience at one of our weekly Storytime events. Each box features colorful books, fun fingerplays, and creative crafts to enjoy at home. These boxes are available to check out for up to 1 week. Just ask a librarian at the Auburndale Public Library about how you can get a Storytime Box today!