Fairfield (NJ) Over the last week or so, the Fairfield Police Department was advised by several citizens that they had received suspicious phone calls in which the callers were attempting to have the citizens send money to them under the guises that there was some family-type emergency that immediately required the money.
In some of the most recent cases, the caller would tell the citizen that a family member had some legal trouble in another state and that if the requested amount of money was not immediately sent; their family member would be jailed. In a second separate scenario, the caller contacted the citizen, using the actual name of a Fairfield police officer, and telling the citizen that there was a warrant for their arrest and if they didn’t immediately send money, officers would come and arrest them. One of these resulted in a victim wiring $54,000 to the criminals.
It was only back in November that Fairfield Police issued a warning for a similar scam in which the unknown suspects contacted the victim by phone claiming to be with the FBI and telling them that a car was recovered with blood and a large amount of money in it that they claimed was registered to the victim. They then told the victim that they were working with the Fairfield Police Department and that they would have the Fairfield Police Department contact them to confirm this. The victim was then contacted by an unknown individual with a number that appeared on caller ID to be coming from the Fairfield Police Department’s main number (973) 227-1400 but was actually a false internet phone number. The caller claimed to be a Fairfield police officer and told the victim to cooperate with the FBI when they called back. The victim was again contacted by the suspects who again claimed to be from the FBI. They then instructed the victim to go to various stores and locations to purchase gift cards. The suspects then told the victim to give them the card numbers and for them to then shred the cards.
“It is disheartening that many people fall victim to these con artists each and every day. But what is angering us even more is that they are now using the names of actual Fairfield police officers or the actual Fairfield Police Department non-emergency number to help their scam appear legitimate” said Chief Anthony G. Manna.
Unfortunately, many victims are unknowingly complicit in the many scams that target them in that they post many personal items on social media platforms including family members’ names, pictures of vehicles and homes, location and vacation information and the like so that their friends and family can keep up with their activities. But there are many con artists searching these same social media platforms for such information so that when they call their victims, they have just enough information to repeat to them that their scam now appears legitimate. For example, if someone posts that a family member named Dave is vacationing at the Polynesian Village in Disney World that may be all the information that a con artist needs to facilitate a believable scam.
There are too many scenarios for these phone scams to provide a complete list. But the public should know that these scams usually have at least two things in common. The first is that the victim is made to feel that time is of the essence. If they don’t act immediately, some harm or negative consequence will befall them or their loved ones. The second is the key; it requires the victim to wire money or purchase pre-paid credit or gift cards and to provide the caller with the numbers of these cards. Both of these things should immediately put up a red flag to the potential victim.
The Fairfield Police Department strongly encourages that, before wiring any funds or purchasing any pre-paid credit or gift cards for anyone who may call you on the phone, that you first contact your local police department for assistance. They will be glad to help substantiate the nature of the call and ultimately prevent the public from losing their hard-earned money.
“I am often asked how people could fall for these scams. In my opinion, it is because of a combination of two things. First, the con artists are good at what they do and second, because the victims are always good-hearted, loving people who are drawn into a scenario in which they try and help someone in need. I have had very intelligent friends of mine defrauded of substantial money because of the combination of these two things and if you don’t think it could happen to you, it could” said the chief.
Authorized by: Chief Anthony Manna