Crime, Police/Fire

Police in Baltimore County warn residents of bail money scam

NOTTINGHAM, MD—”This is an urgent message about your grandchild. I’m their lawyer. They’ve been involved in an accident and arrested for reckless driving. They need $10,000 to pay their bail so that they don’t have to stay in jail for six months.”

Legit? No, this is fraud, and police say it’s costing older citizens in Baltimore County thousands of dollars. Three cases were reported in the county just this week.

In September, scammers obtained large sums of money through fraudulent means similar to the one described above in six different jurisdictions in Missouri, and in Virginia in October. The three Baltimore County incidents all occurred this week; one in Catonsville on Monday, another in Timonium on Tuesday, and the third case on Thursday morning in Towson. In addition, cases have also been reported in Anne Arundel County and Frederick County. These scams were all very similar in nature.

While some scammers generically claim to be a relative in need of cash, other telephone scams may actually use the name of a victim’s relative, making the scam appear to be legitimate.

Part of these scams is creating a sense of fear and urgency so that the victim doesn’t have time to think things through and recognize the scam.

These particular scams also involve effort on the part of the scammer to isolate the victim, and in effect, keep anyone who may be more knowledgeable about scams from alerting the victim to the deception. The suspects may advise the victim that they can’t talk to anyone because there is a gag order in place, or advise them to give false information to anyone who asks questions.

In all of these cases the victim has been instructed to provide cash and that a courier would respond to their residence to pick up the money. The suspect has, in fact, driven to the victim’s residence and taken possession of the cash in many of these cases.

With three reported cases this week, detectives fear that there may be other victims of this crime in Baltimore County who have not reported the incident out of fear or embarrassment.

Anyone who has had an experience similar to those described here is advised to call the Baltimore County Police Department’s non-emergency line at 410-887-2222 to report the incident or dial 911 for an immediate response to an in-progress crime.

Additional resources for information about common scams or to report a scam can be found on the Federal Trade Commission or Better Business Bureau websites.

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