ELIZABETH, NJ – A warning has been issued by Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and Union County Sheriff Joseph P. Cryan after a recent increase in attempted phone scams by callers pretending to be members of law enforcement and asking for money via wire transfer.

Prosecutor Park and Sheriff Cryan cited several recent incidences of scams that are currently under investigation. In one case, an elderly Maryland resident recently reported that he received a phone call from a person identifying himself as a Union County “district attorney” who falsely told the victim that his grandson had been arrested and charged with vehicular homicide. The caller had the victim wire nearly $5,500 in several separate wire transfers, purportedly to provide his grandson with a public defender.

In another case, a person claiming to be a member of the Sheriff’s Office gave a Union County resident a fictitious name and badge number and requested that the victim to contact him; the recipient of the call instead informed authorities. And in a third case, an elderly Westfield resident received a phone call from a person claiming to be an attorney who falsely reported that his grandson had been arrested in New York and that he needed $1,900 for bail. The victim traveled to a local Western Union branch, where an employee talked him out of sending the money. 

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Additional attempted scams involve callers purporting to be representatives of the Internal Revenue Service contacting victims and attempting to solicit tax payments they are falsely told they owe.

“These callers are clearly attempting to prey on some of our most vulnerable residents, and we are urging members of the public to remain vigilant and report to us any such incidents they encounter,” acting Prosecutor Park said.

“It’s imperative that we spread the word about these attempted scams in an effort to ensure that as few people as possible fall victim to them,” Sheriff Cryan said. “We in law enforcement do not request wire transfers of money for any reason, and anyone calling, falsely identifying themselves as police, and asking for such is performing an illegal act.”

Anyone who feels that they or someone they know may have been a victim of a scam of this nature should contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Dennis Donovan at 908-527-4558 or Sheriff’s Office Detective Charles Mancuso at 908-527-4493.