MANATEE -- A scam called the "frantic wave" possibly played out on Interstate 75 at 6 a.m. Sunday.
The reported incident spurred calls Monday to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office from residents asking for guidance if they were to see someone on the interstate waving as if in distress.
"This is a tough one," sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow said of the incident in which a 20-year-old Palmetto man was robbed at gunpoint after he stopped his car for a woman waving frantically in the middle of I-75.
When the victim stopped, the woman told him her husband was unconscious in their vehicle. The victim said the husband then sprang out of the car and robbed him of his cell phone, just under $100 and a credit card.
The couple drove away without injuring the victim, according to authorities.
The sheriff's office has been monitoring the victim's credit card and cell phone and has not been able to trace either as yet, Bristow said.
The sheriff's office is also considering the possibility
the story is not true.
When asked for a license plate number, the victim told authorities the plate was covered by a substance that made it hard to see the numbers and letters.
Also, attempts to locate the victim Monday at two addresses he gave to authorities were unsuccessful. The addresses included one in public housing in downtown Bradenton and the other at Regatta Pointe condominiums in Palmetto.
If victim's story is true, Bristow said the sheriff's office can only provide basic guidelines as to how to respond to a frantic wave.
"It involves human nature and all of our desires to do the right thing," Bristow said. "We are advising anyone who sees someone standing in the middle of I-75 or another highway, frantically waving them over, to first call 911 and describe the situation and second, do not hit them," Bristow said.
What to do next is up to each motorist.
"It could be that it's a real emergency and, in the five minutes it takes for medical help to arrive, the person could die," Bristow said. "I think if I were on the interstate I might stop to help. It's a natural reaction. But it has to be up to the person if they want to be a Good Samaritan. We see it as an individual choice."
The suspect vehicle was described as a 1990s black GMC Yukon last seen southbound on I-75.
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers of Manatee County at 866-634-8477. Callers are anonymous and eligible for a reward.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7057 or contact him at Twitter @RichardDymond.