ELIZABETH, NJ - There has been an recent increase in the number of Union County residents reporting attempted scams by callers -- purporting to be members of law enforcement -- that ask for money via wire transfer, according to acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and Union County Sheriff Joseph P. Cryan.

Law enforcement agencies involved in all New Jersey Superior Court matters exclusively send formal paperwork via standard U.S. mail. No government business regarding financial transactions is conducted by phone.

Several of these incidents remain 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 in order to provide his grandson with a public defender.

Sign Up for E-News

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.  

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,” said Park.

“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,” noted Cryan. “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.