A type of scam where a caller pretends to be the victim's arrested grandchild looking for bail money was recently reported in Spring Lake.
Spring Lake Boro Police responded to a Jersey Avenue home for a report of attempted fraud, where a call contacted the female victim and pretended to be a grandson needing a wire transfer, police said.
According to the police report, the Jan. 25 phone call went like this: the caller identifying himself as a foreign government official, then, another individual who sort of sounded like her grand son got on the call and started to cry, and then the "government official" got back on the phone and asked for a wire transfer of money.
"During the conversation the individual informed the victim that her grandson was arrested and that she needed to complete a money wire transfer for her grandson to be released. During the conversation the victim stated that she was allowed to speak with someone that sounded like her grandson and when she started to ask questions the individual began to cry," reported Det. Sgt. Timothy Giblin of Spring Lake Boro Police. "The phone was returned to the government official who instructed the victim how to wire the money."
However, the victim was able to contact her grandson and confirm that the phone call was an attempted fraud, and called the police.
Giblin offered the following advice: "This scam is known as the Grandma Scam. Residents are warned to check with other family members prior to wiring any money. Particularly if part of the conversation was not to tell mother/father what had occurred."
A string of these phone calls were reported in Ocean County from late 2011 through summer 2012, in Toms River, Berkeley and Point Pleasant but also elsewhere in the state such as Holmdel and New Providence.
In one, a Toms River man was robbed of more than $40,000 in a phone and wire scam when a caller lied and said his grandson was in trouble, police said. After a greeting card arrived in the mail from the actual grandson much later, the victim discovered the ruse and called police.
Both the county prosecutor's office and the state Attorney General's and Division of Consumer Affairs prepared warnings about the scam. If your “grandchild” calls requesting money, go to the Attorney General’s Web site at www.nj.gov/lps, or call the elder fraud hotline at the Division of Consumer affairs: 877-746-7850.