TAUNTON — Chief Edward Walsh and the Taunton Police Department would like to warn community members about a circulating scam targeting senior residents, and offer tips to community members to help prevent them from falling victim to similar scams.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, a Taunton resident received a telephone call from an individual claiming to be the lawyer of her grandchild who was allegedly in jail following a car crash. The caller claimed he needed $5,000 to bail the grandchild out of jail.
The grandmother followed the purported attorney’s instructions and provided the money to an individual who arrived at her property later in the day.
Upon contacting her grandchild later, the individual victimized by the scam realized the grandchild was not in jail and that the person that called earlier was not an attorney. She then contacted Taunton Police.
A similar scheme was reported to Taunton Police on Jan. 12. At this time, an investigation into both incidents remains ongoing.
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 scammers may pose as the relative of the victim or a lawyer. 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.
Residents should note that 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.
The Taunton 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.
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. Residents who believe they may have fallen victim to such a scam are encouraged to contact the Taunton Police Department at 508-824-7522.