SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) —  On Monday morning, Chris Holland and his wife, Ellen, woke up to a threatening text message from an unknown number while inside their Spring Hill home.

“The person was saying they were the head of the ‘Sinaloa Cartel’ and they had a contract out to kill me and my family. If I didn’t send them $5,000 right now they’d kill me and my family,” Chris said.

As a former member of law enforcement, Chris knew it was likely a scam.

“I was pretty sure the head of the Sinaloa cartel wasn’t texting me,” Chris said.

But according to Spring Hill Police Lt. Michael Foster, not everyone would know this is a scam. He says this has been going on for about a decade. It started with email threats and has evolved into text messages over time.

“It really just relies on people’s fear and kind of puts them in a situation where they feel if they don’t act then something bad is going to happen,” Lt. Foster said.

The message comes from a “hitman” threatening to harm the recipient or their family if they don’t send gift cards or money ASAP.

“If you do it once, they’re going to keep asking you again more and more until you finally stop. So we’ve had people give thousands of dollars away,” Lt. Foster said about multiple kinds of digital scams.

Lt. Foster said scams don’t discriminate, but older people often fall victim to this type of crime.

He said to ignore messages from unknown numbers, don’t give away money or personal information and report it to local law enforcement.

“We sent it in just because there are sensitive demographics out there that aren’t aware of these things and it’s scary to see these kinds of things. So don’t respond and if you have any kind of question — ask. That’s what our law enforcement is there for,” Ellen said.

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You can also file internet crime reports with the FBI through their Internet Crime Complaint Center by clicking, HERE.