TOMS RIVER – No government official will ever call you and demand gift cards for supposedly missing jury duty or having a problem with social security benefits.
County officials are once again warning residents—especially senior citizens—that anyone claiming to be a government official demanding money or gift cards over the phone is a scam artist, a fraudster.
“We want all of our residents and especially our seniors, to be aware that these scams are out there and anyone can be targeted,” Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Kelly, who serves as Director of Law and Public Safety, said. “We all need to be vigilant and always remember to never give out personal information at the request of a caller.”
It’s unclear if this new round of phone scams is being carried out by the same group of people who seem to target seniors. But at least twice, Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy has been impersonated.
“I want to emphasize that no local, county, state or federal law enforcement officer will ever call you and request gift cards or your personal banking information to satisfy fines or other activities,” Mastronardy said. “Furthermore, no one from local, county, state, or federal law enforcement will ever call to threaten anyone with arrest either.”
Some of Mastronardy’s own officers have been targeted by these scams, with claims that their social security benefits have been suspended due to fraudulent activity.
The scammers claim to be federal agents who claim the target’s savings account is on the verge of being wiped out and must contact the sheriff’s office immediately.
Some residents have unfortunately been conned, and have been duped into buying gift cards, with the promise that a check and new social security card were on their way. However, there was no check. No new card. And now no way to get their money back.
“The problem is that these scam artists have developed a relatively sophisticated set up where our residents are fooled by the telephone numbers they are seeing and are frightened into paying the scammers,” Mastronardy said. “If you are concerned about a phone call, call your local police department to check the accuracy of the information.”