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The News Tribune is offering this article free to all readers because it includes information important to the safety of our community.

Authorities are warning of a scam involving a kidnapping plot that's circulating in Central Missouri.

Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said surrounding counties are reporting residents have received telephone calls where the caller claims a friend or family member has been kidnapped.

The caller has said the kidnapping occurred after a vehicle crash or because the friend or family member witnessed a drug deal.

'There have been people yelling or crying in the background or getting on the phone and quickly talking, imitating a victim," Wheeler said in a social media post. "The caller is trying to get the resident to send money somewhere as ransom."

Wheeler urged anyone who receives such a call not to send any money and not to provide any information.

"If you receive a call similar to this and are concerned about someone's well-being, you can either call that person yourself or contact law enforcement where the person lives and ask that the person be checked on," Wheeler said.

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