MERRIMAC – Police Chief Eric M. Shears reports that the Merrimac Police Department is investigating an incident in which a Merrimac resident was scammed out of $18,000 last week.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, a Merrimac resident received a telephone call from an individual claiming to be a grandchild who was in jail. The caller claimed he needed $18,000 in bail money, and had the grandmother speak to a second individual who claimed to be her grandchild’s attorney.
The grandmother followed the purported attorney’s instructions and provided $18,000 in cash to an individual who arrived at her property later in the day.
Upon contacting her grandson later, the individual victimized by the scam realized the grandchild was not in jail and had not called her earlier. She then contacted Merrimac Police.
An intensive investigation, in collaboration with multiple law enforcement partners, remains ongoing.
“Those of us at the Merrimac Police Department take it personally when residents fall victim to crime. We are doing everything in our power to identify a suspect and bring some measure of justice to the family involved in this,” said Detective Stephen Beaulieu, who is leading the investigation. “Please don’t hesitate to call Merrimac Police if you or a family member have received a call like this. No one should be ashamed of loving their grandchildren and family, and that’s what makes these scams so particularly awful.”
“This is a common and brazen scam that targets grandparents and seeks to play on their love for their grandchildren. We want to educate our community about these kinds of scams even as we seek to make an arrest in this case,” said Chief Shears. “This scam and other versions of it have been reported not just in Merrimac, but in communities throughout the region, and we will never stop pursuing those who seek to victimize seniors.”
Grandparent scams and bail scams, as they are commonly called, target grandparents and family members with stories of a grandchild or relative being in urgent trouble, often under arrest. The scams request urgent bail money be provided, and scammers often encourage would-be victims not to contact police or other family members.
The Merrimac Police Department would like to share the following tips from the Federal Trade Commission regarding these types of scams:
- 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.
For more information on grandparent and bail scams, click here.
Residents who believe they may have fallen victim to such a scam are encouraged to contact the Merrimac Police Department at 978-346-8321.