MORRISTOWN, NJ – Morris County law enforcement officials are advising residents that criminal scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 emergency to conduct scams by phone, email and online, especially targeting the elderly.

“We and our law enforcement partners throughout Morris County and the state have observed an increase in the number of scams and confidence crimes,” Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said in a release. “Residents are being asked to remain vigilant, especially as scammers are trying to upset them into impulsively turning over money. Residents are encouraged to reach out to elderly friends and relatives to alert them about these scams.”

Some examples are as follows:

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BAIL BOND – A criminal will call the victim and explain their grandchild has been arrested.  The criminal may or may not provide the grandchild’s name. In some cases, a person was placed on the phone pretending to be the grandchild as proof of being arrested. The criminal will ask the victim to post (in other words, give) a sum of money in order for the grandchild to be released from jail. During a recent incident in Roxbury Township, the criminal asked for the victim’s home address in order to pick up the money. This type of scam is particularly dangerous, as the criminal will attempt to collect the money in person directly from the victim.

Please be aware, the criminal may give the victim instructions on what to say to a bank teller if they ask why cash is being withdrawn. The criminal may also instruct the victim to act upset and angry or to tell the bank employee that it is none of their business.

IRS SCAM –A criminal will call the victim and tell them that they owe the government money and face being arrested if they do not pay. To avoid being arrested, the victim must satisfy the debt by way of a MoneyGram or gift cards.

Please be aware that the IRS will never call and attempt to settle a tax debt via MoneyGram or gift card.

STIMULUS CHECKS – The United States Postal Inspection Service advises that scammers are calling and/or emailing individuals claiming to be from the Treasury Department, and offering expedited payments or assistance with obtaining an Economic Impact Payment. According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, citizens do not need to pay taxes or processing fees in order to obtain the relief stimulus payment. Residents are advised if they receive a call asking for personal information or for fees to obtain a stimulus check, do not provide any personal information and do not send money.

Knapp said, “I am appalled by these attacks upon our most vulnerable residents. The 95-year-old father of my close friend was bilked out of $25,000 via a bail scam. Please don’t be a victim!”

Residents can also report the theft of stimulus checks from the mail to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at uspis.gov/report or 1-800-ASK-USPS.

If you are contacted, please notify the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit at 973-285-6200.

 

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