NORTH ADAMS -- City police are asking residents to be wary of a new telephone scam that claims a loved one is being held in a foreign jail and the only resolution is to send cash quickly.
"We've had three complaints about this already," North Adams Police Lt. David Sacco said Monday. "The caller knows the name of a family member, who is supposedly in a foreign jail. People need to realize that this doesn't make it true. There's a lot of information out there on the Internet. People put a lot of stuff on Facebook and on social media sites rather innocently and don't realize how much access [other] people have to that information. The information is right out there for people to grab."
According to the victims who have contacted the North Adams Police Department's detective bureau, the caller claims the family member needs help being bailed out. The caller then requests that cash be sent to an address in that country.
"The caller tells the individual ‘that's how it works in this country.' The caller also tells the individual not to contact the police or it will jeopardize the safety of the family member," he said. "That's nothing but a scare tactic. To a member of law enforcement, there's a ton of red flags raised by these types of calls. But for the individual, when the name of a family member is mentioned, all common sense goes to the wayside. An easy thing to do is check to see if that family member is actually out of the country."
Sacco said the scam has primarily targeted the elderly, but there's no guarantee that it won't happen to others in the community.
"Everyone should be on alert," he said. "First and foremost, it is very important that people do not mail cash to the caller or give them any type of bank or credit card information. Do not let them have any type of account information or access."
Anyone who receives this type of call should contact their local police department.
"We've seen this scam before in the past. We've seen different versions of it," Sacco said. "There was one a while ago that came by email, claiming an individual was stranded in a foreign country. In that scam, the email asked for cash to be sent by Western Union. This time, it's a specific address."
What to do
North Adams Police Lt. David Sacco said that if individuals are contacted by someone using this scam, or any other scam, they should seek advice before sending any type of money or account information. The following steps should be followed:
* Write down any information the caller gives you.
* Do not send money or give account information over the phone or by mail.
* Contact other family members to see if the named family member is in fact out of the country.
* Contact your local police department to report the scam.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email