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Northern Highlands Daily Voice serves Allendale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Midland Park, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River & Waldwick

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How many more elderly victims will be scammed before you do something?

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

WHAT WE THINK: Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox barely had time to congratulate a 90-year-old borough woman who cleverly avoided becoming the victim of a scam when a 68-year-old man from town reported being taken for $1,900.

“The only defense that law enforcement has against [people] who attempt financial scams on others is to report the incidents in the hope that people read it, preventing further scams from being successful,” Fox said.

The boss is right.

And he has proof:

Start with the borough woman who brought a lottery scam letter she received in the mail from France to police headquarters. She’d won millions, it said – and “simply had to pay a processing fee of several thousand dollars to collect her winnings,” Fox said this morning.

The sender included a worthless check “for the processing fee,” telling the wise woman: “Just deposit this advance on your winnings, mail us your own check and your millions will be on the way to you immediately.”

She sniffed it for the phony that it was and went straight to police.

Jerry DeMarco

A fellow Wyckoff resident wasn’t as sharp.

After cutting what he thought was a sweet deal over the phone on a timeshare he owns, “another person called and stated that the man had to send them $1,900 to cover title transfer and lien search fees,” as Fox explained. “He mailed a check to a Florida address, only to find after his check was cashed that he had been scammed.”

It’s not just letters or emails. Even more brazen are those who go into elderly victims’ homes and fleece them.

A few months weeks ago I wrote about a woman from Fort Lee, a close friend’s mom who lost cash, her credit card and precious jewelry to a con man posing as a water company worker.

Several weeks shy of her 80th birthday, she considered herself pretty sharp — until then. Although she wasn’t harmed, thank goodness, it left her terribly upset, as she considered the potential threat, the violation and the cherished memories that, as her son told her, are gone for good  ( SEE: Water company imposter steals Fort Lee widow’s cash, credit card, jewelry ).

How many more victims are going to be claimed? What is it going to take to better protect those who are, or could become, vulnerable?

What if we impress upon the senior members of our tribe something that we do with children: If a stranger offers you anything, beware!

Maybe you have an elderly parent or parents. Or other relatives up in age. Or neighbors who are. Please talk to them about these scams.

It’s not like you’re asking them not to drive (a topic for an entirely different editorial). You’re trying to help.

Tell them to check with family members first — or call police — when a stranger calls, either at the door, by phone or online. Trust me: I’m doing this long enough to know enough police officers to fill Radio City, and I can tell with complete certainty that they have no problem checking it out for you. They consider it not only a duty but a valuable service.

While they’re at it, they just might keep it from happening again — and add an arrest or more to their files.

If a senior you know needs proof of how rampant it is — or, better yet, if YOU need proof of how important it is to make this your business, look no further than a SAMPLING below of the stories that have run recently on CLIFFVIEW PILOT alone.

Several are out of Wyckoff — proving that predators will continue to strike even in a community with a chief like Ben Fox, who constantly emphasizes vigilance.

I’m like him: I keep hoping that these stories will prevent people from becoming victims.

Chief Fox and his fellow lawmen and women are doing all they can to get the word out.

How about you?

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Upper Saddle River police today captured a “psychic/spiritualist” fugitive wanted in a fortune-telling scam that cost a victim $120,000. READ MORE ….

*      *      *      *      *      *

PUBLIC SAFETY: Police are warning citizens not to be scammed by callers who claim to represent PSE&G and threaten to turn off electric and gas service if they’re not paid. READ MORE ….

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PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: In another fraud that is becoming extremely common, an 87-year-old Wyckoff woman was swindled out of $6,400 by a man pretending to be a grandson in trouble. READ MORE ….

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PUBLIC SAFETY: A Wyckoff woman trying to rent an apartment for her daughter online lost $4,100 to a scam artist claiming to be a landlord, police said. READ MORE ….

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PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: If a caller tells you that you just won a 2013 Mercedes Benz: You didn’t, say Paramus police, who are again warning the public to beware of phone scams — and to warn your older loved ones, as well. READ MORE ….

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YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A 79-year-old Teaneck woman had a small safe stolen from her home this afternoon by a diversion burglar who pretended to be working for the water company, police told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight. READ MORE ….

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PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: Phone scammers are victimizing more elderly residents every day, prompting a growing number of law enforcement agencies to urge people to warn susceptible loved ones. READ MORE ….

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PUBLIC SAFETY: An 83-year-old Wyckoff woman who was conned out of $4,000 by a caller could have been your mother, or your grandmother, or a friend, which is why police are warning citizens about the increasing number of phone scammers who prey on the uninformed. READ MORE ….

*      *      *      *      *      *

SCAM ALERT: Ridgewood police have joined the chorus of local departments urging citizens to beware of a growing phone scam, after a 73-year-old village woman was conned out of $9,000 by a caller who said he was her grandson and an accomplice who claimed to be his lawyer. The “grandson” told the woman he was in an Ohio jail and needed bail money. He put the lawyer on the phone, and he convinced the woman to send four separate wire transfers out of state. She’ll likely never see that money again. READ MORE ….
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BE ALERT: The terrified man who prompted a Fair Lawn bank teller to trip a holdup alarm — bringing an army of tactical police officers who closed off area streets — was one of a growing number of victims of phone scammers first given widespread local attention last year. As CLIFFVIEW PILOT first reported last fall, the scam is hitting Bergen County residents hard. In one case, a Wyckoff couple in their 70′s lost $15,000 after being tricked into believing their son had been in car crash in New York City and needed bail money. READ MORE ….

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ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT : Police are increasing their warnings about the alarming spread of ransom telephone scams, including recent calls to unsuspecting loved ones in Saddle Brook, Midland Park and Glen Rock the past week — as well as two others, to Ridgewood and Wyckoff, that cost the victims thousands of dollars. READ MORE ….

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