WEST NEWBURY — The West Newbury Police Department would like to warn the community about scams that target senior citizens, and would like to offer tips for community members to help protect themselves.
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 scammer requests bail payment in cash or gift cards, to be given to a person posing as a courier or bail bondsman who arrives at the victim’s home. Or, the scammer requests money be transferred via a wire service, such as Western Union.
Government agencies, including law enforcement, never contact the public demanding payment by wire transfer or by prepaid cards when individuals are being held on bail.
While it is extremely difficult to recover funds lost as a result of these scams, residents and community members should always report these scams to the police.
West Newbury Police remind residents that any arrest or detainment of relatives can be confirmed with the arresting police department or through the local district court clerk’s office.
“This type of scam is especially egregious this time of year, when scammers try to use the love grandparents have for their families against them during the holiday season,” said Chief Dwyer. “The West Newbury Police Department enjoys a close working relationship with West Newbury Council on Aging Director Christine Marshall, and we will be doing everything in our powers to help educate seniors in our community about this danger, and how they can protect themselves.”
The West Newbury 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.
- 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 West Newbury Police Department at 978-363-1212.