GRANDPARENT SCAM: Rochelle Park PD Nabs Bronx Man After Elderly Victim Mails $7,800 | #scams | #elderlyscams
Rochelle Park police nabbed a phone scammer from the Bronx who convinced an elderly victim to mail $7,800 in cash that he said was needed to bail out his just-arrested grandson, authorities said.
Posing as a police officer, a caller told the 80-something Washington State resident that his grandson had been arrested, Detective Lt. James DePreta said.
The caller said his son needed $16,800 for bail, then directed him to mail $7,800 to a Rochelle Park address, DePreta said.
Believing it was real, the victim sent the money, the lieutenant said.
He eventually realized it was a scam and called police.
After finding the mail-drop residence vacant, Detectives Brian Gallina and Brian Cobb interviewed residents and reviewed neighborhood surveillance video, DePreta said
They quickly identified a minivan with New York registration that belonged to Jose Lopez-Polanco, 32, he said.
Detectives contacted Polanco, who agreed to turn himself in, the lieutenant said.
Polanco showed up at headquarters on Tuesday in the silver Toyota Sienna seen on video, DePreta said.
Detectives seized the vehicle, got a search warrant from a judge and found receipts “consistent with fraudulent money transfers to the Dominican Republic,” he said.
They also found an electronically-controlled hidden “trap” in back that held a small bag of cocaine, DePreta said.
Polanco was arrested and charged with theft by deception and identity theft. He was released pending a hearing in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack while additional drug-related charges were being prepared.
Rochelle Park Police Chief Dean Pinto praised his detectives for their “diligent” investigation.
He also cautioned citizens to be wary of grandparent scams, which prey on older victims who could get anxious when hearing that a loved one is in trouble.
Such scams have become all too common. So many people have fallen for the “grandson in trouble” phone scam that the FTC said it contributed to combined losses to victims across the U.S. of $328 million in a single year.
Victims 70 and older have suffered the highest average losses, the AARP reports.
Pinto said anyone who gets a call from anyone saying they are in danger or trouble and need money should follow some simple steps:
• Take a moment to calm yourself;
• Say that you must consult another family member first;
• Hang up and call a loved one.
• Then call police.
If the emergency turns out to be real, you can still respond appropriately, the chief said.
If it’s not, you’ve saved yourself from becoming a victim, he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please share this story with elderly parents, relatives or friends. If they weren’t already aware, warn them about the dangers and advise them on how to respond.
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