Family scammed out of $3,900: NPD

A Nutley resident and her daughter were the victims of a phone scam after a caller allegedly told them a relative was in jail and in need of bail money that needed to be wired to Massachusetts via Western Union.


Police said the caller told the resident her grandson was in jail with a broken nose and needed $1,800 bail to be released. While on the phone, the resident said someone else came on the line, claiming to be a lawyer, and said that if the money was wired to a Massachusetts location, her grandson wouldn’t go to jail.

The victim told police she sent the $1,800 to the Massachusetts location, but never heard back from her grandson.

The next day, the victim’s daughter got a similar call stating $1,800 wasn’t enough to “get her nephew out of jail.” Police said the woman then sent an additional $2,139.40 to Massachusetts to complete the fake bail.

Soon thereafter, the victims spoke with their relative, who told them he was never arrested, never in jail, never had a broken nose and never needed bail money, according to the NPD.

When the victims called back the number the calls came from, the phone had already been disconnected.

Nutley Police Chief Thomas Strumolo Jr. urged residents not to send any money to anyone after receiving questionable phone calls, regardless of how urgently the caller said it was needed. He said these scam artists are clever and use personal information to prey on unsuspecting, honest victims.

He said the “grandchild in trouble” scam is very popular next to IRS back-payment requests and lottery-winning insurance scams.

Any concern regarding a caller’s authenticity should be verified before sending any money, Strumolo said.

Meanwhile, the Nutley Police Department released the following reports of incidents that took place between Nov. 21 and Nov. 25:

Nov. 21 

• A resident told police he was the victim of a fraud after unexpected charges were made on his credit card. The victim told police he found $176 in charges on his Master-Card at a Family Dollar that he hadn’t made. The victim’s bank was notified of the fraudulent charges, the NPD said.

• A resident playing basketball at Yantacaw Park told police his phone was stolen while he was playing ball. The resident had put his keys and phone on a bench whilst he was playing, but when he was ready to leave, the phone was gone, although the keys were still there.

Nov. 22 

Here’s another fraud report — one we haven’t heard of until now. A victim told police a family member’s phone was removed — without his permission — from an AT&T Family Plan and placed on to the MetroPCS network. However, in order for a phone number to be ported from one carrier to another, the person moving the line must have the account holder’s personal information, the police said. It was not immediately clear how the port was authorized.

Nov. 23 

A River Road resident told police money — some U.S. currency and some international currency — was stolen from his apartment. Police said there was no sign of forced entry nor were there reports of anyone trying to visit the apartment.

Nov. 24 

Two Hillside Crescent residents reported criminal mischief to police.

In the first incident, police responded to a report of criminal mischief to an auto. The victim told police that over the last few months, every time he parked his car on the street, it would be scratched by keys.

In the second incident, another resident also reported scratches to his car, but only over the last three-plus weeks.

Damages totaled $500 in each incident, the NPD said.

– Kevin Canessa Jr. 

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.