BARNEGAT – Police are urging seniors to be cautious of phone call scams as a recent fraud scheme stole $8,000 from an elderly woman.
The victim, who resides in Barnegat, told police that she received a call in December 2021 from a man claiming to be her grandson. This individual told the woman that he had been arrested after being involved in a car accident in New York City.
The story continues with a fake lawyer, who claimed to be representing the grandson, telling the woman that her grandson can be released from jail if she sent a cash payment of $8,000.
Not realizing that the entire incident was a fraud, the victim turned over the $8,000 after meeting an individual claiming to be a courier.
The victim later talked to family members and discovered her grandson was not arrested and realized she was the victim of a scam.
Investigation by Officers from the Barnegat Township Police Department revealed that similar events had recently occurred in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, and Nassau County, New York.
A joint investigation identified the individuals responsible for the scamming incidents as 34-year-old Jorge Peguero-Mendez and 24-year-old Richard Quinones-Perez, both of the Bronx, New York.
The investigation further revealed Peguero-Mendez drove Quinones-Perez to the Ocean County area with the intent to acquire cash from the victim.
Both have been charged with Theft by Deception as well as Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception.
The two men have yet to be apprehended, and police are warning seniors to be cautions when they receive any type of unusual phone calls asking for money.
“These types of incidents should serve as a cautionary tale for all of our senior citizens here in Ocean County, as well as a reminder that unscrupulous individuals are out there just waiting to prey upon the most vulnerable members of our community,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said. “Please be vigilant in identifying these fraudulent phone calls, and recognize that any phone call or message requesting large sums of cash or wire transfers is likely a scam. These types of calls should be immediately reported to law enforcement.”
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Germain acknowledge the Barnegat Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, Hopewell Township Police Department, and Nassau County New York Police Department, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.
Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by these particular defendants, or who are in possession of information as to the whereabouts or either suspect, is asked to contact Officer Robert Armstrong of the Barnegat Township Police Department at 609-698-5000.
The charges referenced are merely accusations and the public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.