NJ cops warn: Bail bond scammers go door-to-door in 35 towns
It's the age-old "grandparent scam" with a quarantine-era twist.
Several law enforcement agencies have issued warnings about a scam that prosecutors say cost two Camden County seniors more than $35,000 and may have affected residents in 35 New Jersey towns.
The scam involves a phone call to an individual from someone posing as a lawyer or relative claiming a child or grandchild has been arrested and needs to be bailed out of jail, according to Camden County Acting Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. The person is told because of the executive order requiring people to stay at home, a bail bondsman will come to collect the cash.
Once the cash is turned over, there is no further contact and the money is gone.
A person in Gloucester Township lost more than $25,000 and a Cherry Hill resident was scammed for more than $10,000, according to Mayer.
"Based on the circumstances, this appears to be an organized, targeted effort to defraud vulnerable adults who believe they are just trying to help their loved ones," Mayer said.
Other law enforcement agencies around the state reported other details of the scam.
Long Branch police on their Facebook page said a variation on the scam is the caller claiming that a relative needs medical treatment.
"Be alert & NEVER give cash, checks, gift cards or any personal information to a stranger, in-person or via phone," the department said.
A resident in Roxbury Township was called by someone who claimed to work for "Chance Bail Bonds," saying it was a brand-new courier service started as a way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Roxbury Township police wrote on their Facebook page. The caller asked for the cash in a white envelope.
"The entire phone call seemed extremely legitimate, so please refrain from any negative comments on how someone fell for this. This could easily happen to someone you know," police wrote.
"It is extremely dangerous that scammers have become so bold and are now showing up at victim’s homes," police wrote.
Denville police warned about the scams and called them a variation on the "grandparent scam" because it targets seniors but said that "anyone of any age may be targeted."
Mayer said that if you receive call asking for bail money, ask what jail your relative is reportedly being held in, note the phone number the call is calling from and hang up. Then call the detention facility and ask for confirmation that your loved one is being detained before making any decisions.
East Hanover police warned about another scam in which someone dressed in full PPE gear including a face mask will knock on the door asking for a fake charity and trying to enter the house.
"Do not open your door to anyone you do not know," police warned.
Contact your local police if you believe you or a family member have been scammed.
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