More scams reported

WESTFIELD – While telephone scams are rarely new, they sometimes come in spates and city police have received “numerous” complaints in the past month about three variations of scams which appear to be targeting older residents.
Capt. Michael McCabe said Friday that, of the three scams which seem to be currently popular, perhaps the most dangerous is a caller who claims to represent a computer company and asserts that the target’s computer can be tuned up to make it operate more quickly or has a virus which needs to be removed.
The caller claims to be able to rectify whatever problem is claimed to exist from his location if the victim will only allow the caller to take remote control of the computer to track down the problem.
McCabe said that, if a resident relinquishes control of the computer to a scammer, “They can pretty much do whatever they want with mail order or online stuff” with the credit card information found on the computer.
Another scam being reported lately is a variant on the theme of a relative who is in trouble and needs money quickly.
Not long ago scammers were claiming that a grandson or other relative jailed in a foreign country needed cash to effect his release but the current scam, McCabe said, involves scammers who report that a relative has been involved in an accident and needs cash, either for reimbursement for damage caused or for medical expenses.
McCabe said that, like the calls which calls started weeks ago from a person claiming to represent the Gas and Electric Light department and demanding immediate payment for utility accounts which they claim are overdue, the proper response for a person who receives a suspect call is to make a phone call themselves to ascertain the status of the account or the location and safety of a loved one.
Pleas by a caller to “Granny” not to tell “Mom and Dad” about the caller’s alleged dilemma should be ignored, McCabe said, and can be a red flag to alert a victim that he or she is being targeted by a scam.
He said that it is safe to assume that “If you didn’t call them, it’s a scam.”
“You can’t look at it any other way”, McCabe said.
Of the scams which appear to be current “The one that is more pernicious is the one that gives (a scammer) unfettered access to your computer” because, he said it gives the offender “pretty much everything.”
McCabe said that residents should verify any claims made by callers before sending money anywhere and, if they have any doubt at all about a financial transaction resulting from a telephone call, they should call police before sending money to anyone.

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