Telephone scams bilk residents out of thousands of dollars

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey warned that two unrelated telephone scams could potentially bilk residents out of thousands of dollars.

In one scam, Carey and Chief Matthew Geist of the Middlesex Borough Police Department said an investigation determined that a group of unknown individuals may call potential targets, tell them that one of their relatives has been kidnapped, and that the family must wire money to ensure the victim’s safe return.

Residents are advised that they should immediately check on the whereabouts of the alleged kidnap victim, who in reality has not been abducted, and to immediately notify police.

In one incident, a couple, whose names are being withheld, transferred thousands of dollars to various locations in Mexico before realizing there was no kidnapping and the threat was fictitious, Carey said.

In the other scam,  Carey and Chief Stephen J. Rizco of the Highland Park Police Department said thieves will contact their target and advise that as a legitimate computer services company, they need to remotely access the individual’s computer to purge a “virus.” In reality, no such virus was detected.

Once the scammers obtain access, they will lock the individual’s computer and demand cash payments to release the computer from their grip, Carey said.

“These types of scams in which criminals use fear tactics for financial gain are becoming more prevalent throughout New Jersey,”  Carey said. “These criminals often use personal information of the victims or their families to convince their targets to act. I urge all of our citizens to remain vigilant, be skeptical of such phone calls, and to contact the police if they receive such a phone call.”

Anyone with information should call the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-3300 or their local police department.


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