A couple from Paterson was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception on Dec. 18 by the Bordentown Township Police.
The township police reported the charges in a statement, where the couple, a male and female both 21-years-old who live on Park Avenue in Paterson, were alleged to have been involved in a “grandchild in distress” phone scam.
According to officials, the scam is set up for the perpetrator to call an unsuspecting person, pleading that their “grandchild” was involved in an emergency situation and need money wired to them as soon as possible.
Officials said that investigation began on Dec.13 when the township police said they were contacted by both the Chicot County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and informed that a 93- year-old resident of Chicot County, Arkansas had received a “grandchild in distress” phone call and asked to send currency to an address in Bordentown Township.
An investigation revealed that the caller identified himself as an attorney who was representing the victim’s grandson and claimed that the grandson had just been involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving drunk.
According to the police report, the caller also claimed that the accident involved a pregnant female who may lose her baby as a result of the collision and advised that the victim’s grandson was being detained by the police and needed $3,500 in bail money to be released as well.
The report later states that the caller then directed the victim to ship the bail money via the United States Postal Service (USPS) to an apartment complex located in Bordentown Township.
Officials said that the victim recognized this phone call to be a scam and reported the incident to the Chicot County Sheriff’s Office who then contacted the FBI and Bordentown Township Police.
With assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, the township police said they arranged for a controlled delivery of the money to the Bordentown apartment complex on the afternoon of Dec. 17.
Police said they then observed the suspected couple pull into the complex, operating a 2005 Honda Accord and claimed the shipping envelope from the postal carrier.
Township officers said they then forced a vehicle stop on the couple after they departed the complex and took them into custody.
According to police officials, they recovered the USPS envelope from the couple’s vehicle and subsequently found the pair to be in possession of an additional $10,130 in cash, which was seized pending forfeiture and is believed to be proceeds of similar scams.
Officials said the male suspect was also found to possess a fictitious New Jersey driver’s license at the time of his arrest.
“This investigation is a textbook example of inter-agency cooperation at its finest,” Chief Brian Pesce of the Bordentown Township Police said. “Federal, county and local authorities quickly banded together to interdict a group of scammers who main purpose is to prey on the elderly. I hope this arrest sends a strong message that law enforcement will follow the trail no matter where it leads and seek justice for those victimized by these types of schemes.”
Officials said that the female suspect was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception and released pending a future court date in Burlington County Superior Court, and the male suspect was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception, possessing a false government document and lodged in the Burlington County Jail pending a detention hearing.