SALEM - An elderly city resident scammed for an estimated $4,000 this week wants others to be wary of the con she encountered.
The woman showed up at the Salem Police Department Tuesday morning to report she received a phone call from an alleged relative claiming they needed $4,000 in bond money. A sergeant from an unknown police department came on the line and told her what to do.
She got four MoneyPak cards, called back and gave the supposed sergeant the numbers from the cards. She later learned that it was a scam and that the relative in question was not in trouble or in jail.
She told police she wanted other residents to beware this type of scam, which has become all too familiar over the years to police agencies. Police received a similar call last month from someone who realized it was a scam before providing any money.
The person had described how the callers fabricated an elaborate ruse about her granddaughter and a friend getting arrested in Mexico after drugs were found in their cab. A man claiming to be a police sergeant told the person to wire transfer $1,500 to get the family member released from jail, even providing what he claimed was a badge number.
The person said the whole story sounded too far-fetched. She didn't wire any money and talked to the granddaughter, finding out she had not been to Mexico and was not in any trouble.
"It's a shame. You really need to be careful of who you're sending money to," Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott said.
He suggested that people call the local police and ask questions before sending any kind of money. Also try to call the relative in question or call another relative or friend who may know the relative's location and whether the person took a trip.
He said it's hard for local police to do anything because a lot of these operations are overseas in another country. New scams are coming out all the time.
Panezott also talked about lottery scams, noting that people should realize "you don't send money to win money."
If a person hasn't purchased a ticket or been to the place where the lottery win allegedly took place, how could they have won that lottery?
The MoneyPak web site at www.moneypak.com warns users about possible scams and tells users not to give out their card number to anyone they don't know or to a business that isn't reputable.
The web site also noted that MoneyPak isn't responsible for paying back money if a user gives out their card number to a criminal. The funds are not insured against loss, the web site said.