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Police warning the public after Massachusetts resident scammed out of $28,000



Police in Massachusetts are warning the public after an investigation revealed that a resident was scammed out of $28,000.

According to Chief Eric M. Shears, on April 27, a 65-year-old Merrimac resident contacted police because she realized she had been scammed out of the $28,000.

The resident had been online shopping when she clicked on a link and began receiving warnings that claimed to be scam alerts, which told her to call a specific phone number.

Upon calling the number, the resident was told to download an application, that funds had been mistakenly transferred to her bank account, and that she needed to contact her bank to make arrangements to correct the error. It is believed the application that the resident was told to download enabled the scammers to access the resident’s personal information, which was then used to further the scam.

Via a series of telephone calls that were spoofed to make it appear as if the resident was dealing with her actual bank, the scammers then convinced the resident to withdraw money from her bank account and then go to a nearby Bitcoin ATM and deposit a total of $28,000 to correct the alleged bank error.

It was only later that the resident realized she had fallen victim to a scam and contacted Merrimac Police.

“Scams like these are tragic because they target and take advantage of elderly residents, who often have limited income and rely on their savings,” said Chief Shears. “A key point to remember when trying to protect yourself against such scams is that few legitimate businesses will have you send payment via bitcoin, gift cards or money transfer.”

The Federal Trade Commission offers the following four signs to help people recognize possible scams:

-Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.

-Scammers say there’s a problem or prize. They might say you’re in trouble with the government, that you owe money, that someone in your family had an emergency, or that there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.

-Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.

-Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. They often insist that you pay by sending money through bitcoin, a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.

The FTC also recommends that if you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy, or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.

“Scams like these are becoming increasingly complex, but one common part of such scams is that they seek to pressure people into quickly sending payments,” said Detective Stephen Beaulieu. “We encourage anyone receiving these types of calls or communications to slow down, take a deep breath, and reach out to friends, family members, or Merrimac Police for advice on what next steps should be.”

Residents who believe they may have fallen victim to such a scam, or who believe they may be communicating with would-be scammers, are encouraged to contact their local police department.

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