The Bloomfield Township Police Department warned residents to be especially mindful of opportunistic thieves this week after two homeowners reported being targeted in a popular phone scam aimed at defrauding the elderly.
The first incident was reported by a resident in the 2000 block of Courville Drive who said she was contacted by someone claiming to be their nephew form a Maryland jail on Jan. 31, according to reports. The individual stated that they needed $2,500 to get out of jail following a bad car crash. The victim wired the money, and was contacted later in the day by the same individual for another $2,200 to pay for damages to a rental car, reports said.
The victim said the individual hung up on her when she asked a question, and she quickly learned her nephew was not in a crash.
On Feb. 4, police said a resident in the 900 block of Tartan Trail called them about a strange call they received from someone claiming to be their grandson. The individual convinced the resident to wire $2,500 to them for an emergency. They called police after becoming suspicious, and realized they were scammed. Investigators determined both incidents are related because the number used by the perpetrator was the same and generated from Montreal, which is a known origin for many phone scams, reports said.
"The Bloomfield Township Police advise residents to confirm 'unfortunate incidents' with other family members prior to wiring money anywhere," a warning on the department's Facebook page reads.
The Grandparent Scam
Police said these scams are common and target predominantly elderly residents or retirees. Just last month we reported that an to strangers in a phone scam.
The scam itself seemed to originate in 2008, but has grown more sophisticated and profitable with social networking sites, the FBI warns. A criminal can sometimes uncover personal information about their targets and make the phone impersonations more believe able.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim, according to the FBI website:
- Resist the pressure to act quickly.
- Try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
- Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail, especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back.