Michael L. Lyle, Chief
56 W. Foster St.
Melrose, MA 02176
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 24, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Melrose Police Remind Residents to be Aware of Telephone and Identity Theft Scams
MELROSE— Chief Michael L. Lyle and the Melrose Police Department would like to remind the community about several ongoing phone and identity theft scams following two incidents that occurred in the city last week.
On April 19, a resident reported that he received a phone call from a man who claimed the resident’s granddaughter was in jail in Florida. The scammer said in order for the girl to be released from jail, the resident would need to pay $6,000 in bail. In an attempt to make the situation appear legitimate, the scammer had a recording of a girl crying in the background, who the resident believed could be his granddaughter in distress. The resident realized the call was fraudulent when the scammer told him to get three $2,000 Home Depot gift cards as the form of payment. The resident hung up and immediately called Melrose Police.
Chief Lyle urges residents to remember that if they give away a pre-paid debit or gift card number, or makes a wire transfer or money order, the money is gone and lost forever, and there is usually no way to recover those funds.
“These are very cunning criminals, do not engage them,” Chief Lyle said. “If you feel something is wrong, hang up the phone and call police to verify. In almost all of these cases, the caller is attempting to scam you.”
In another incident that occurred last week, a resident called the Melrose Police Department to report that a scammer had obtained her credit card information and ordered an item off Amazon. The scammer had the parcel delivered to the resident’s address and waited outside for the delivery to arrive. The scammer then pretended to be the homeowner and signed for the product. The victim was completely unaware that someone had ordered a package, sent it to her house and then signed for it.
The FBI reports that if a credit card isn’t physically stolen, it’s usually compromised with technology, like through card skimmers. If a purchase has been made that you did not authorize, report it to police and contact your credit card company immediately to dispute the charge.
The FBI offers several tips for avoiding credit card fraud, including:
- Don’t give out your credit card number online unless the site is secure and reputable. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but provides some assurance.
- Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source. Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate. Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
- Send an email to the seller to make sure the email address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free email services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area and check out other websites regarding this person/company.
- Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
- Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer’s contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s), contact the card issuer immediately.
Anyone who has questions, concerns, or believes they are the victim of a scam should contact the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.