DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP PA – An individual variously claiming “to be a lawyer, a public defender, or an assistant district attorney” is preying on area elderly residents, Douglass Township Police warned Monday (Nov. 27, 2017), in a scam that asks unwary senior victims to pay thousands of dollars for Walmart or other stores’ gift cards that supposedly will help release a relative from jail.
No one has actually been imprisoned; it’s a hoax. Authorized government officials would not make such a request, police said. The stories sound real enough, though, that they ring true to the uninformed, the department acknowledged in a Facebook post. Some township residents have already received calls, it said, and is concerned others may become victims.
Why are the stories so convincing? Police report the scammers use information readily available in public records and social media – a death in the family, a house sale, a transaction with an estate or will – to use as part of their slick patter. Prospective victims unfamiliar with how scams work might believe personal information came from someone they know well.
The department offers this advice:
- Contact family members and friends, and warn them of this scam.
- No one representing a government agency will ever call to ask for personal information, social security numbers, credit card number or bank account numbers. If you get such a call, notify police.
- Gift cards are not a form of currency. They cannot be used to pay bail.
- If a credit card company calls about a card, hang up. Then call the customer service number on the back of the card, and ask for assistance.
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