BEWARE OF SCAMS!
Please be aware that scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been targeting our elderly
population. Here are two common scams that are occurring during these tough times.
The BAIL BOND scam. The criminal will call the victim on the phone and explain their grandchild was
arrested. The criminal may or may not provide the grandchild’s name. In some cases, a person was
placed on the phone pretending to be the grandchild as proof they were arrested. The criminal will ask
that you post (give) a sum of money in order for the grandchild to be released from jail and ask for your
home address to pick up the money. Please be aware, the criminal may give you instructions on what to
say to a bank teller if he/she questions you on why you are taking out the cash. The criminal may also
instruct you to act upset and angry or to tell the bank employee that it is none of their business as to why
you are taking out the money.
The IRS scam. The criminal will call the victim and tell them that they owe the government money and if
you don’t pay you will be arrested. To avoid being arrested you must pay your debt by way of a
MoneyGram or gift cards. Understand, the IRS will NEVER call you and pressure you into settling your
tax debt with a MoneyGram or gift card.
The New Jersey COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, a joint federal-state effort to investigate and prosecute unlawful and misleading activities related to COVID-19, has provided the following recommendations to avoid common COVID-19 related scams:
- Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.
- Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19. Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating. For example, they might use “cdc.com” or “cdc.org” instead of “cdc.gov.”
- Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.
- Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.
- Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.
- Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if there is a medical breakthrough, you won’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.
- Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies. Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.
- Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID- 19 before giving. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
- Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Don’t send money through any of these channels.
- Be cautious of “investment opportunities” tied to COVID-19, especially those based on claims that a small company’s products or services can help stop the virus. If you decide to invest, carefully research the investment beforehand. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website.
Please do not hesitate to contact the The Township of Washington Police Department at 201-664-1140 if you feel you have been the victim of a scam or have any questions.