Beverly police investigate new 'grandparent scam'

·3 min read

Nov. 19—BEVERLY — Beverly police are investigating after a resident fell victim to a new version of the "grandparent scam" and handed nearly $13,000 to someone posing as a bail bondsman.

The resident, who is not being identified by police, received a call from someone claiming to a lawyer for a relative who had supposedly been arrested.

The caller claimed that he needed $12,800 to post bond for the relative, and would send a bail bondsman to collect the cash, police said in a press release on Friday.

A man posing as the bondsman came to the victim's door and after being given the money, made a phone call, telling the victim he was on the phone with a judge and told them "everything was in order" for the relative to be released.

Beverly Police Detective Shawn Desmond is investigating. Police encourage anyone with information about this or similar incidents to contact him at 978-720-7744.

Police said they've heard of several similar reports across Massachusetts recently.

The "grandparent scam" has been around for a number of years. It got its name from the fact that the scammers tend to target older people likely to have grandchildren. The scammer will claim that the grandchild has been arrested, or involved in an accident, and needs money.

What's new in this instance is that the scammers sent someone directly to the victim's home to collect the money. .

In July, the FBI issued a public warning about the trend. The Internet Crime Complaint Center logged 650 complaints from victims of similar scams between January, 2020 and June, 2021, costing victims an estimated $13 million. Among the 650 complaints, 90 reports involved couriers showing up directly at the home of a victim to collect cash.

Prior scams, including one in Beverly in 2018 that cost an elderly woman $60,000, often involved wiring money to a bank account in another state, a method that can lead investigators to identify accomplices in a scheme, as Beverly detectives did when they identified and charged a Texas man who owned the account.

Massachusetts state courts abolished the use of private bail bonds in the early 1970s. Bail for cases in Massachusetts courts is paid either directly at the court or through a clerk or bail commissioner at a police station or jail.

The FBI offers safety tips to help avoid being victimized:

Seniors should be careful about online postings. Scammers can access profiles on social media or dating or other websites to find personal details, such as names of grandchildren. Be suspicious of any caller who demands that you take immediate action. Call the family member said to be in distress, or a parent or sibling of that person, to see if what the caller says is true.

Scammers can also use technology to hide the number they are calling from and make it appear as if they are calling from a police department or court.

Never give personal information, wire funds or give cash to anyone you do not know or have only met online or on the phone. .

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at jmanganis@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis

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