BEVERLY, MA — The Beverly Police Department on Wednesday issued a warning to residents about a recent increase in reported scams across the North Shore that typically target older individuals.
Police said the Criminal Investigations Divison is seeing a recent “uptick” in scams involving “spoofed” phone numbers, home improvement projects, those claiming that relatives need money to get out of trouble, “catfishing” or romance scams, and panhandlers.
While anyone can fall victim to a scam, many of the recent reports target elderly residents on the North Shore who are generally viewed as less likely to be skeptical of motives and more likely to be willing to provide money to those in need.
The phone “spoofing” scam involves a call that comes from a familiar or official-looking number — such as local police, a bank, or the Internal Revenue Service — and demands money in the form of a wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift card to pay a debt. These agencies will never contact a person by phone for this reason.
Citizens should also avoid clicking links, opening attachments, or scanning QR codes from unsolicited emails or text messages. Citizens should hang up on the caller and dial the number back as spoofed numbers typically will not receive incoming phone calls.
Home improvement scams involve door-to-door sales from those who claim to be contractors offering to repair a roof, driveway or other piece of landscaping. Victims have reported that the “contractor” offered to drive them to the bank so that funds could be secured to start the work.
Citizens should be aware that solicitors are required to register with the police department and be permitted through the city. Citizens should contact local police if they want to check on a solicitor.
The so-called “grandparents scam” involves a phone call from someone purporting to be police, a lawyer, a bail bondsman or even a grandchild or younger niece or nephew, saying the relative is in trouble and needs money to get out of jail. The person on the phone will often tell the target not to contact any other relatives because the person in trouble does not want others to know about what was purported to happen.
Citizens should be aware that Massachusetts does not use bail bondsmen and anyone receiving these calls should, in fact, contact those relatives or Beverly police to determine the whereabouts of the relative in question.
The “catfishing” or romance scam involves meeting online or through a dating app where a series of interactions online or on the phone lead to the person requesting money for an illness or plane tickets to visit the North Shore. These scams prey on victims’ loneliness or desire for a relationship. Residents are urged to be very cautious when giving money to anyone they have recently met or whose identity they cannot verify.
The panhandling scam — which Beverly police has become prevalent on the North Shore — involves someone playing an instrument claiming to be playing for money to support their families during hard times. Police said, in many instances, they are playing pre-recorded music and only appear to be playing the instrument.
Those who feel they may be the victim of any one of these scams should contact local police or go here to report it to the state.
(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at Scott.Souza@Patch.com. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)