LAKEWOOD — With approximately 31 percent of Ocean County’s population over 55 years old, scam artists have plagued the community and victimized its senior population. To educate the community about these criminals, Harrogate, a life care continuing care retirement community in Ocean County, recently hosted a “Senior Scam” prevention seminar with Sergeant Cindy Boyd of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Senior Scam Task Force.
“With personal information readily available and influx of scam artists, we felt it was important to make our community aware of the warning signs, and assist the Senior Scam Task Force in identifying these criminals,” said Don Johansen, Executive Director of Harrogate.
During the presentation, Boyd informed attendees about current scams wreaking havoc in the area, tips on identifying potential scam artists and what to do if they fall victim.
“Ocean County senior citizens are being targeted by unscrupulous persons who try to take advantage of them based upon their age and situation,” said Boyd. “By hosting seminars, like this one with Harrogate, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Senior Scam Task Force hopes to educate area seniors and general public in order to prevent these crimes happening to them.”
Presently, the Senior Scam Task Force is combating two prominent scams known as the “Jamaican Scam” and “Granny Scam.” Similar to previous Nigerian scams, the “Jamaican Scam” calls a senior adult alerting them to the fact that they have won an International Lottery. The winner is then asked to wire money to cover fees for the prize. For the “Granny Scam,” which originates in Canada and England, the scam artist poses as a grand daughter or son who needs money to be bailed out of jail. In both instances, the criminals harassed their victims with relentless phone calls, instructed the victims not to tell anyone and even threatened their lives.
According to Boyd, other scam indicators can include the following:
- the caller uses high-pressure tactics to encourage the victim to wire money immediately;
- the caller becomes hostile when questions are asked;
- the caller states that you were selected as winner in a computer generated lottery;
- and the caller impersonates law enforcement to request money to aid in the investigation of the scam.
To avoid being victimized, Boyd provided the following tips:
- International Lotteries are illegal in the United States, so do not send any money to anyone for an international lottery;
- You do not have pay for a prize;
- Never send money or give out personal information if solicited by phone, mail or email;
- Do not destroy original documents, checks or money wire transfer receipts. These should be turned over to the Prosecutor’s Office;
- If harassment continues, change your phone number and do not make it public.
Since these crimes have no jurisdictional boundaries, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Senior Scam Task Force works with local law enforcement, financial institutions and social service agencies as well as county, state and federal agencies to identify the criminals. Boyd informed attendees “if you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, please contact the local police department and prosecutor’s office.”
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