The Belmont Police Department has seen an increase in the amount of reports in which residents are the victims of telephone scams, according to Belmont Assistant Chief James MacIsaac.
These scams are occurring to residents of all ages. The two most common scams appear to be; a family member in trouble and collection agency demands money.
Family Member in Trouble
In this scam, the victim receives a call from either a family member or someone who claims to be with a family member. The “family member” is reported to be in a foreign country and is in trouble. The story can range from a car accident to being arrested for serious criminal charges. The caller claims that a large sum of money is needed for bail or fines. The victim is instructed to send the money via Western Union, or to purchase Money Packs or phone cards. Once done, the victim calls back the “family member” and gives them the information they need to retrieve the money. It is only after this has occurred that the victim discovers that their family member is safe and they have been scammed.
In this variation, the victim receives a call from a representative of a collection agency or collection department. They are told that their bills are past due and they must pay or risk having their utilities turned off, or have their credit ruined. The collection agency will only take payments via Money Pack or Pre Paid Credit Cards. After the victim purchases the cards they then call the “agency” back and give the representative the numbers from the back of the cards. Unfortunately this scam can happen multiple times before the victim realizes what is going on.
The Belmont Police Department advises residents that if they receive these suspicious calls to hang up immediately. If there is concern for a family member’s safety, attempt to contact that person, or call the Belmont Police before taking any further action.
MacIsaac also reminds residents that no legitimate collection agency or department would only take payments via Money Pack or Pre Paid Credit Cards over the phone.
Residents with questions about these telephone scams can contact Lt. Kristin Daley at 617-993-2554.