Scam foiled

WESTFIELD – A city woman’s bank account is back to normal after a shipping clerk became suspicious of a package she was mailing to a stranger and was able to convince her that she was being victimized in a scam.
A city emergency dispatcher took a call Thursday from a man who said he believed that a friend of his was being scammed by a caller who knew her social security number and other personal information. The man explained that his friend had been told that her social security number had been used to rent an apartment in San Antonio, Texas, where a police raid discovered 20 kilos of cocaine. The man said that his friend was told that she was being held responsible for the drugs and that a warrant had been issued for her arrest.
The dispatcher reports she then called and spoke directly with the woman who confirmed what her friend had reported. The victim also said that her caller knew her social security number and the name of her bank and credit card companies but not the account numbers. She said her caller had instructed her to empty her bank account and mail him the money, in a shoe box, via UPS.
The victim said that she had emptied her account and taken the money to a UPS mailing center in Northampton. There, a worker became suspicious of the package, decided not to mail it and instead opened it. When he found the money he contacted the victim to tell her that she was being victimized.
He also reported the incident to Northampton police.
After the victim spoke with Northampton police, she again called the Westfield dispatcher to say that she was going to come to the Westfield police station to file a report – after she had redeposited her money in her bank.
Det. Todd Edwards, a detective with years of experience dealing with scams reported to Westfield police, said that it is “very unusual” for a shipping clerk to open a package but said that the clerk’s intervention saved the woman a “significant” amount of money. Edwards did not say how much money was in the package but pointed out that the crime under investigation is grand larceny which is defined as an amount greater than $1,200.
Edwards said that the scheme is not unique and said that scams of this sort are very hard to investigate because of the many jurisdictions which become involved.
He also said that knowledge of the intended address of the package is not as useful as it might appear since the recipient is almost certainly a “money mule” whose sole purpose is to send the money somewhere else. “It becomes a gigantic shell game which usually ends up overseas” he said.

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