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Caller threatens to kill son of Bridgeport City Council member

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BRIDGEPORT -

A menacing caller threatened to mutilate and kill a Bridgeport councilwoman's adult son unless she paid ransom, police say, but the call turned out to be a scam and the man was safe.

Bridgeport City Councilwoman Jeanette Herron, who also helps teach special education children at Tisdale School, was about to take a break at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when her cellphone lit up with the call. She says it came from a number she didn't recognize.

She says the male caller spoke with a foreign accent and told her he had taken her adult son. He warned her that he could cut off one of her son's fingers every hour until she paid $10,000 in cash. Or he would kill him. And Herron says she heard a man screaming in the background, as though he were being tortured.

The scammer also knew personal details about her son that Herron thought only somebody close to the family could know, she says. So she tried to call her son from a second phone, and he didn't pick up.

"If they're going to kill my son, they're going to kill him regardless," Herron says she thought at the time. "I hung up the phone, and I called the chief of police."

Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez was able to track the son down safely.

Herron calls it the most terrifying 20 minutes of her life.

"I thought my son was going to die, and knowing how things go in this city and anywhere else in this country, you don't know how sick people can be," she says. "You don't want anything to happen to your family, so now they're playing on that."

Police say similar scams are growing in popularity. Police say the vast majority of these calls come from another country and are almost always highly profitable scams. They recommend that you hang up and call police and let them determine the validity of the threat.

"We'll know immediately," Perez says. "Don't fall for this. Don't send money."

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