Just before the New Year set in, the Burlington Police Dept. put out an alert to residents that scammers were attempting to bilk money mostly from senior citizens in the so-called “Grandparent Scam.”
In that, elderly residents are targeted with a scary phone call that claims their grandchild is in serious legal trouble. The scammers request money for bail or for a lawyer, and they say that cash is needed immediately. They instruct victims to withdraw large sums of cash and then send a courier to pick up that cash at the victim’s home.
The problem is still persisting in town, and all around the Commonwealth. According to Fox 25 News, an 87-year-old Hingham man handed over $26,000 because his grandson had allegedly been arrested.
“There’s one particular wave that’s hitting our region at this time,” said Burlington Lt. Glen Mills. “But this scam has been going on for several years.”
Mills said he received an email thanking the department for the recent warning because this particular resident was reached by a scammer that very day.
The scams have also tapped into vaccines for Covid. The Burlington Council on Aging put up a scam alert on its town website in 2021 because scammers were trying to get people to pay for vaccines.
“As of right now, you still do not have to pay for a Covid shot or booster or to sign up for the vaccine. We are not really seeing many scams for Covid vaccine at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to remain vigilant,” said Marge Yetman, director of the Burlington COA. “If you question whether you should be paying for something related to the vaccine, you can call the board of health or the COA to verify.”
While the town doesn’t have a vaccine clinic coming up anytime soon, Yetman leaves up the warning because the problem still persists. She says she still gets scams in her personal email concerning payment for a shot.
The alert is from the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and can be found on the COA website.
There are some helpful warnings:
• If someone offers to put you on a vaccination list in exchange for money, you are being scammed. You cannot pay to get on a list.
• No one from a vaccine distribution site or a private insurance company will call you asking for your Social Security number, your credit card number, or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine. If you get such a call you are being scammed.
Yetman also had some words for the problem police are dealing with.
“These are so difficult, they prey on seniors who aren’t in constant contact with their family and make them emotional so they can’t think straight,” she said. “You can practice getting these calls so if you receive one you know how to respond and it’s almost automatic. One recipient of a grandparent scam call used a different name for her grandchild so she knew for certain it wasn’t him. It’s hard to think under such emotional circumstances, so practicing can be extremely helpful. But if you question if the call is legitimate or if you fell victim to their tactics, please don’t be embarrassed to call your family or the police. It will save you thousands of dollars as well as your own piece of mind.”
Mills said scams go on all year long. In the spring, it’s the driveway scams, he pointed out. He gave out a tip: If a scammer wants you to hand over a large sum of money to him or her, ask that the transaction takes place in the police lobby.
If you believe you have been scammed, or someone attempted to scam you, call the police.