BILLERICA 一 Chief Roy Frost reports that the Billerica Police Department arrested and charged a man after he allegedly attempted to steal from a senior resident using the increasingly common grandparent scam.
TONY MEJIA, AGE 37, OF BOSTON, was arrested and charged with:
- Larceny by False Pretenses
On Thursday, Jan. 5, at about 9 a.m., Billerica Police were notified that a 79-year-old resident had received a call from a man claiming to be their grandson, “Bobby.” Police learned that individual claimed he had been arrested for striking a pregnant woman with his car while drunk. He said he was ashamed of what happened, and told the resident that they should not contact anyone else or tell anyone what happened.
The resident has no grandchildren.
Billerica Police detectives responded to the resident’s home, and listened as she called a phone number for an attorney that “Bobby” had provided.
The second individual told the resident their grandson needed $6,000 in bail money to get out of jail, and offered to send a courier to their home to pick up the money.
The courier, later identified as MEJIA, arrived at the home later the same day and accepted a manila envelope full of what appeared to be cash. MEJIA was taken into custody by Billerica Police as he drove away.
MEJIA is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Lowell District Court.
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 bail money be provided urgently, and scammers often encourage would-be victims not to contact police or other family members.
“This is a classic example of the grandparent and bail scams that have targeted at least 25 people across Eastern Massachusetts recently,” said Chief Frost. “The resident who was targeted in this instance did exactly the right thing when she immediately called Billerica Police, and helped us make an arrest in an increasingly common type of activity that targets seniors in our communities.”
Billerica Police 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.
- Remember that police and the courts never take payment by pre paid gift cards.
- 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 Billerica Police Department at 978-671-0900.
These are allegations. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.