Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigates gruesome text message scheme

Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office put out a new warning about graphic and gruesome text messages that are part of a money grab scheme.

“Do not pay any money, it’s a scam but it’s very frightening when you see these horrific pictures of people who are in all states of mutilation,” Sheriff Grady Judd told 8 On Your Side.

A victim from Lakeland, who asked 8 On Your Side not to reveal his identity, shared images that are too graphic to be shown on TV.

“I even bought a handgun that night just because I was scared,” he said.

He is also one of three victims to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after receiving disturbing and threatening text messages.

“They found it somewhere online, my address, and they’re telling me that, start sending me pictures of people’s heads cut off and you know it was pretty gross and I thought someone is after me,” the victim said.

Investigators from the computer crimes unit are trying to track down the perpetrators of this scary scheme, Sheriff Judd said. He added he is aware of three other recent cases reported to central Florida law enforcement agencies.

The purpose of this scheme is to scare people into paying money out of fear of becoming victims of violence, the sheriff explained.

The victim from Lakeland said he agreed to speak with 8 On Your Side because he wanted to join the sheriff’s office in warning the public.

“I want to spread awareness you know, let people know this is going on and let people know don’t be afraid,” he said. “Always if this happens let the sheriff know, call 911.”

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