Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy is urging residents to hang up if they suspect that a phone call is a scam.
Ocean County officials were previously warning residents of scam calls that were threatening fines and jail time for failing to respond to jury duty. Now they are warning residents about the Social Security scam that is attempting to convince residents that their Social Security number has been compromised.
"We want all of our residents and especially our seniors, to be aware that these scams are out there and anyone can be targeted," said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Kelly, who serves as Director of Law and Public Safety. "We all need to be vigilant and always remember to never give out personal information at the request of a caller."
While it is unclear whether the current scam is part of the ongoing series of fraudulent phone schemes over the past two years that have mostly been aimed towards senior citizens in Ocean County – Sheriff Mastronardy has now been impersonated twice by them.
"I want to emphasize that no local, county, state or federal law enforcement officer will ever call you and request gift cards or your personal banking information to satisfy fines or other activities," said Sheriff Mastronardy. "Furthermore, no one from local, county, state, or federal law enforcement will ever call to threaten anyone with arrest either."
Mastronardy noted that some of the officers in the Ocean County Sheriff's Office have also been called by the scammers stating that the Social Security Services has suspended their Social Security number due to fraudulent activity.
The con artists claim to be federal agents who tell the caller that they have been the victim of identity theft, specifically saying that their Social Security number has been compromised and was being used for malicious purposes. The "agent" states that their identity has been used to make purchases in their name, and that the caller's savings account was on the verge of being wiped out unless they contacted the Ocean County Sheriff's Office and spoke to Mastronardy personally to resolve the issue.
One resident who responded to the call was told by the "agent" to withdraw all the money he had in the bank and to transfer it to multiple gift cards that were to be purchased from some area box stores to avoid being arrested for fraudulent use of his Social Security number. The "agent" stated that he would be issued a new Social Security card the next day with a check for the money he had withdrawn and transferred onto the gift cards. Unfortunately, once the money was gone, so were the con artists, with no check in return.
"The problem is that these scam artists have developed a relatively sophisticated set up where our residents are fooled by the telephone numbers they are seeing and are frightened into paying the scammers," Mastronardy said. "If you are concerned about a phone call, call your local police department to check the accuracy of the information."