Ocean County Charges Scammer Who Targeted Elderly in Barnegat
You say it can never happen to you, but it happens to a lot of unassuming, intelligent, kind-hearted people.
They get scammed.
This time the target was an elderly man in Barnegat. The caller identified himself as an attorney, telling the man that his nephew was in a car crash. The "attorney" went on to convince the man that his nephew was under arrest and that $10,000 was needed to bail him out of jail.
The victim even met the scammer - now posing as a courier - at a CVS parking lot in Barnegat to make the cash transaction.
Then, the scammer got greedy. According to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and Barnegat Township Police Chief Keith Germain, the scammer - identified as Juan C. Piedrahita, 49, of Hollywood, Florida - called the victim back after the transaction and demanded another $10,000.
Billhimer says the staff at the man's bank convinced the man to reach out to his nephew - and, he found that the nephew was not in trouble, and was not involved in any accident. That's when the authorities were alerted.
According to Billhimer, "Detectives were able to obtain surveillance footage of the area surrounding the CVS parking lot, which captured the rental vehicle Piedrahita had rented at Newark International Airport, and were thereafter able to confirm Piedrahita’s identity based on that footage."
Piedrahita has not been found as of yet, but a warrant has been issued for his arrest. "Anyone in possession of information concerning Piedrahita’s whereabouts is urged to contact Detective James Purcell of the Barnegat Township Police Department at 609-698-5000, extension 262."
Billhimer had this to say about scammers:
I urge our residents to speak with family members before withdrawing large sums of money based on a phone call or an email. These scams are far too prevalent in this day and age. If you receive one of these calls or emails, contact your family or your local police department. Be aware that these scams target seniors, please help to prevent our senior population from falling victim to predators seeking to cheat and extort them.
SOURCE: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.