Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, announces the arrest of a Massachusetts man who allegedly tried to steal thousands of dollars from a senior citizen in Tennessee as part of a telephone scam.
Julio Feliciano, age 31, of 133 Intervale St., Dorchester, MA, was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted larceny over $1,500 and conspiracy. He was processed and arraigned at the Wickford State Police Barracks and released, pending further court action.
Mr. Feliciano’s arrest stemmed from an investigation into an incident reported at the UPS Store in Bristol around 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The manager of the store said she had received a suspicious package and reached out to the sender, who was later identified as an 85-year-old woman in Tennessee.
The elderly woman stated that she had received a phone call from a man who identified himself as an attorney, who said her grandson had been arrested. She was told to send a package containing $5,200 in $100 bills to a person whose address was listed as the UPS Store in Bristol, RI.
The UPS Store manager notified Rhode Island State Police of the suspected scam. Troopers arrested the suspect, later identified as Mr. Feliciano, when he arrived at the store and took custody of the package on Wednesday.
Colonel Manni said this is a classic example of one of many telephone scams used to exploit senior citizens, and he credited the employees of the UPS Store in Bristol with bringing it to the attention of Rhode Island State Police.
“These types of crimes are particularly disturbing because they target a particularly vulnerable population – our senior citizens,” Colonel Manni said. “We encourage seniors and their families to take steps to protect themselves against scam artists, and the Rhode Island State Police will arrest anyone caught preying on senior citizens in this manner.”
The National Council on Aging notes that seniors are especially susceptible to “grandparent scams,” in which scammers claiming to be the person’s grandchild say they need money right away or they pretend to seek financial assistance on behalf of a grandchild, as happened in this case.
The Rhode Island State Police urges seniors to be on alert for scammers seeking money by telephone or through phony emails and other online solicitations. Here are some other tips to protect yourself against this type of fraud:
Beware of any urgent request for money – especially if the caller claims to need it for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees or medical bills.
Don’t send any money without contacting the person directly or another relative to verify the request for help, and only use a phone number that you know belongs to that person.
Beware of requests to send money via a wire transfer, mailing cash or sending money orders or gift cards to people you don’t know.
Be skeptical of late-night calls and callers who ask you not to tell anyone about their requests for money. These are classic tactics used in telephone scams.
Never provide your private information, such as your Social Security number, bank account or birth date, to anyone who contacts you unsolicited.
For more information about how to protect yourself against scams and fraud, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information page at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0030-pass-it-on