Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon advises the community to be alert to a recent scam in which imposters, exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic and targeting the elderly, claim cash bail is needed to free a person from incarceration.
A woman in Morris County recently fell prey to the scam in which she was contacted over the phone by a person purporting to be from a bail bond company and claiming that a relative of hers needed cash for bail after being charged with a crime.
The perpetrator tried to add credence to his story by saying a courier would go to the woman’s home to limit the potential for the spread of COVID-19 by having her avoid travel. The perpetrator went to the victim’s home equipped with a mask and glove to retrieve the cash, according to authorities.
“It’s egregious that scammers exploit people’s fears and anxieties during a crisis. This is the latest twist on the variation of scams that target elderly and other vulnerable people and shows a particular ruthlessness when perpetrators show up at homes,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Sheriff Gannon joins police in Morris County in warning residents to NEVER provide cash, checks nor Green Dot MoneyPak cards, nor financial or personal identifying information to a stranger over the telephone, through e-mail or in response to a home visit.
CRIME PREVENTION TIPS TO AVOID FALLING VICTIM TO PHONE OR DOOR-TO-DOOR SCAMS:
- Always be suspicious of callers who claim urgent circumstances and demand immediate payment for any reason;
- Don’t agree to let a stranger visit your home to collect money or property;
- Do not engage but report to police unsolicited, door-to-door attempts to sell you products that purport to cure or treat COVID-19.
- Take notes of suspicious calls requesting money and try to gather information, including the incoming call number if available;
- Call your local police department to report receiving calls pressuring you for money.
Sheriff Gannon previously warned of other fraud schemes that emerged when the COVID-19 outbreak began, including emails or solicitations that seek charitable contributions or offer general financial relief, cures, vaccines and Coronavirus testing kits.