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South Passaic Daily Voice serves Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, North Haledon, Passaic, Paterson, Prospect Park, Totowa, Wayne & Woodland Park

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PHONE SCAM: 'Grandson In Trouble' Ringleader Busted, Passaic County Authorities Say

Raymond Jacquez
Raymond Jacquez Photo Credit: PASSAIC COUNTY PROSECUTOR

You’ve probably heard of them, the heartless con artists who call elderly victims pretending to be a grandson or other young relative needing bail money right now. Authorities in Passaic County say they’ve nabbed one – a big one.

Raymond Jacquez, 26, led a network of scammers who convinced victims they were a relative who’d been arrested or a lawyer working for that person, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said.

The victims were urged to wire money to a bank account in Paterson so the relative could post bail, she said.

Senior victims in Florida, Maryland, Vermont and Washington State ended up sending tens of thousands of dollars to Jacquez and the members of his crew, the prosecutor said.

In a separate scheme, Jaquez filed a bogus insurance claim for a car accident, Valdes said.

Detectives with the prosecutor’s Financial Crimes/ Insurance Fraud Unit charged him with various conspiracy counts, as well as with insurance fraud, she said. He was then released pending trial under New Jersey’s 2017 bail reform law.

Valdes cautioned citizens to be wary of grandparent scams, which prey on older victims who could get anxious when hearing that a loved one is in trouble.

Such scams have become all too common. So many people have fallen for the "grandson in trouble" that the FTC said it contributed to combined losses to victims across the U.S. of $328 million in a single year.

Victims 70 and older have suffered the highest average losses, the AARP reports.

Authorities say anyone who gets a call from anyone saying they are in danger or trouble and need money should follow some simple steps:

  • Take a moment to calm yourself;
  • Say that you must consult another family member first;
  • Hang up and call a loved one.
  • Then call police.

If the emergency turns out to be real, you can still respond appropriately. If it's not, you’ve saved yourself from becoming a victim.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please share this story with elderly parents, relatives or friends. If they weren't already aware, warn them about the dangers and advise them on how to respond.

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