Scammer in PPE tricked people out of thousands in 4 NJ towns, cops say
A man South Brunswick police say got a mother to give him $20,000 cash in a “grandparent scam” is facing charges from multiple departments.
The COVID-19 public health emergency has given the age-old scam a twist. Typically, a scammer would trick a victim into sending money by claiming a relative needs bail money or other emergency funds. But police in several jurisdictions have warned that now, scammers are frequently showing up at victims' homes, dressed in PPE, claiming to be from bail bond companies.
More than 100 seniors statewide have been defrauded of nearly $1 million in the past three months in similar scams, according to South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka.
Hayducka said Osvaldo Thomas, 41, of the Bronx called a woman in her 70s, claiming to be a lawyer, and told her she needed to post $20,000 to get her son out of jail. Thomas picked up $20,000 in cash from the woman at her home in the township's Kendall Park section, according to the chief, who said the cash was recovered when Thomas was arrested an hour later.
Since his arrest for the South Brunswick incident, Thomas has been charged in Bound Brook, Cherry Hill and Gloucester Township, according to acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer.
Thomas was able to steal $27,000 from a Gloucester Township victim, and $10,300 from a victim in Cherry Hill, Mayer said.
In Gloucester Township, Thomas is charged with one count of third-degree impersonation and one count of third-degree theft by deception. Cherry Hill police charged Thomas with one count of third-degree Impersonation, one count of third-degree theft by deception and one count of third-degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
Thomas is being held in the Camden County Jail awaiting a pretrial detention hearing.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ
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