BERNARDS TWP. _ Bernards police said that a resident of Fellowship Deaconry fell victim to an internet lottery scam to the tune of $8,000 to $10,000 sent out in gift cards over a period of about six months. 

The victim reportedly told police he received an email stating he had won an "exceptional amount" of lottery money, but that he first had to prepay the taxes in the form of gift cards, according to the police report.

Police contacted the victim on April 30 after receiving the theft by deception report, the department said.

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According to police, the victim explained to township officer Justin Gumprecht that an unknown individual had contacted him via email stating that he had won a lottery worth an exceptional amount of money.

After replying to the initial email, the victim was then contacted by a "James" by both telephone and email and told that in order to receive his winnings had to first pay the taxes up front by putting certain monies on gift cards,  and then providing the gift card number for transfer, according to police.

"Over the past six months or so, he has given somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 towards the scam. [The victim] does not have any receipts or exact amounts [but] also gave me the Zelle account number used to transfer the gift cards" to the scam artist, the police report said.

Police said the victim acknowledged his mistake, and had contacted his bank. He told police that he was filing the report as a matter of record.

Gumprecht said that he advised the victim that he could also report the matter to the FBI's IC3 website.

Although Bernard’s Township residents have not been the victim of such scams in recent months, police warned that residents in numerous nearby towns have been experiencing the type of scams seeking money for a “grandchild or child in trouble" recently, township police said.

Scam victims told to leave money in an envelope due to 'COVID-19 protocols'

"The elderly are receiving calls from various individuals either claiming to be an attorney or a bail bondsmen requesting money for a loved one who was involved in an accident with injuries. Allegedly, the loved one is in jail and in need of money in order to be free. The suspects have been stating COVID-19 protocols require the victim to not speak to anyone regarding this incident, and that a person will pick up the money at the victim’s residence providing it is left in the mailbox," according to the police report.

So far, the scams have been taking place in Morris and Essex counties, according to police.