GLOUCESTER — Chief Edward Conley and the Gloucester Police Department wish to make the community aware of a recent increase in scams that target seniors by coaxing them into giving money by claiming a relative has been arrested and needs to be bailed out of police custody.
Through information shared with departments in other communities throughout the region, Gloucester Police have learned of an increase in reports of a scam in which a person calls an elderly individual and informs them a relative has been arrested. The scammers have then instructed the victims to provide cash to a person posing as a courier or bail bondsman who arrives at their home to collect the money.
Chief Conley would like to make residents aware that bail is never picked up at someone’s house through a livery service, nor is it requested via a wire service such as Western Union, or via prepaid debit cards. There have been reports of similar incidents in other communities recently. Arrests of relatives can be confirmed with the arresting police department or through the local district court clerk’s office.
The Gloucester Police Department would like to share the following tips from the Federal Trade Commission about family emergency scams:
Verify an Emergency
If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money:
- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
- Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
- Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
- Report possible fraud at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Residents who believe they may have fallen victim to such a scam are encouraged to contact the Gloucester Police Department at 978-283-1212.
Scammers Use Tricks
They impersonate your loved one convincingly.
It’s surprisingly easy for a scam artist to impersonate someone. Social networking sites make it easier than ever to sleuth out personal and family information. Scammers also could hack into the e-mail account of someone you know. To make their story seem legitimate, they may involve another crook who claims to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer.
They play on your emotions.
Scammers are banking on your love and concern to outweigh your skepticism. In one version of this scam, con artists impersonate grandchildren in distress to trick concerned grandparents into sending money. Sometimes, this is called a “Grandparent Scam.”
They swear you to secrecy.
Con artists may insist that you keep their request for money confidential – to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. Victims of this scam often don’t realize they’ve been tricked until days later, when they speak to their actual family member or friend who knows nothing about the “emergency.” By then, the money they sent can’t be recovered.
They insist that you wire money right away.
Scammers pressure people into wiring money because it’s like sending cash – once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. Imposters encourage using money transfer services so they can get your money before you realize you’ve been scammed.