Family and friends say the cell phones of Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle are off

Portia Ravenelle, Orlando Moore

Relatives of a missing New York couple are worried after they went missing late last month while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

Numerous outlets are reporting that the U.S. Department of State was made aware of the situation and are working with authorities in the Dominican Republic to locate Orlando Moore, 43, and Portia Ravenelle, 32.

The Mount Vernon couple boarded a plane bound for the tropical island on March 23, reports New York’s PIX 11.

According to NBC New York, they failed to return from their brief vacation on March 27.

Orlando Moore Portia RavenelleCredit: Instagram
Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle
| Credit: Instagram

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

“I’m very worried,” Moore’s aunt told the New York Post Monday. “I am hoping that somewhere, they’re being held against their will and they’re alive. But as time goes by, we start thinking that something strange has happened.”

PEOPLE’s email to the Consulate General of the Dominican Republic was not returned Tuesday.

A State Department official tells PEOPLE, “We are aware of reports regarding a U.S. couple missing in the Dominican Republic. The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.”

The official added, “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further information to offer at this time.”

Cheryl Freeman and her boyfriend Carter Washington spent time with Moore and Ravenelle and told CNN they befriended the couple, who apparently had an early, pre-dawn flight home from an airport 100-plus miles from the resort they stayed at.

PEOPLE was unable to reach Moore or Ravenelle’s family for comment.

According to the Post, relatives say the couple never checked out of their hotel and never returned their rental car. Both their phones are off.

“When these things happen, you always think of the worst, but we are hoping for the best,” Edith Walters, Moore’s grandmother, told CNN.