BARNEGAT/WARETOWN, NJ – Today is National Senior Citizen’s Day and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office wants to make sure local residents remain vigilant against scams that target seniors.

Many Ocean County municipalities serve as home to over 55 communities. In Barnegat, Heritage Bay is the only development east of the Garden State Parkway. Several others are west of the highway.

In the Township of Ocean, over 1400 homeowners reside in Greenbriar Oceanaire’s gated community for those over the age of 55.

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Unfortunately, advancing age sometimes suggests vulnerability and con artists take advantage of it. The FBI says part of the problem is that “people who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting.”

The problem is compounded because seniors who realize they’ve “been had” are often afraid to report crimes. On the one hand, they are embarrassed. On the other, they fear family members will take away their financial independence.

According to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, many con artists target seniors by way of telephone. On an infographic provided on their Facebook page, the Prosecutor’s office gave the following examples of common scams:

  • Grandparent Scam: Grandchild is in trouble and needs money.
  • Lottery Scam: Lottery winnings require an upfront payment to make them collectable.
  • Romance Scam: Fake online profile asks for a money transfer.

In the meantime, seniors are also receiving “spoofed” calls from social security. Caller ID may suggest the calls originate from the Social Security Administration, but do not. Scammers threatening arrest by the Internal Revenue Service often use the same tactics.

“The most prevalent call we’re seeing is that callers saying from a local law enforcement agency, and reporting that there is an active warrant for the victim's arrest. They are then  asking for payment through some sort of prepaid card,” shared Township of Ocean Police Chief Michal Rogalski.

 “In another Ocean County community, a senior lost approximately $18K in this type of scam,” Rogalski reiterated that no law enforcement would actually contact someone to ask for money.

The police chief recalled the time a resident came in to say she was informed she won a BMW and that it was just waiting for her on a flatbed until she paid the taxes. “She was upset when we told her it was a scam,” said Rogalski.

Those suspicious of scam artists should immediately hang up the phone. "We invite people to call their local police department to check when they have concerns,” said Rogalski.

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.