WEST ORANGE, NJ — Two Paterson men have been charged with deceiving a Midwestern grandfather in a fake bail scheme, according to West Orange police, after the victim realized that the $600 he was asked to mail to New Jersey to bail his grandson out of jail for driving under the influence (DUI) was a scam.  

Jose Alexander Mercedes, 28, and Reynaldito Ulloacastillo, 31, were arrested on May 17 in a sting by West Orange detectives as the two men attempted to collect a package they thought contained $2,000 from the elderly victim.

The victim, who lives in Missouri, reported that he received a phone call on May 15 from a person who identified himself as James Johnson, who told the victim that the victim’s grandson was in jail in New Jersey on charges of DUI. According to the victim, the man said he needed $600 in cash for bail, and the victim promptly sent cash to an address in West Orange, he told police.

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The elderly man realized he had been scammed when his grandson later contacted him, and was evidently not in jail. When the man identifying himself as Johnson called again and requested that the victim send another $2,000, detectives asked the victim to send an envelope without the money, and Mercedes and Ulloacastillo were arrested on site.

According to police, they are currently investigating whether the men were involved in a similar scam in Iowa.

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