To Combat Widespread Scams, New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Launches "Fighting Fraud" Awareness Program
ELIZABETH – From the IRS phone scam, to lottery and sweepstakes cons, to the so-called grandparent scam, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has received anecdotal information suggesting that impostor frauds and other criminal scams are more active than ever –and are preying on potential victims in New Jersey through phone calls, emails, and other means.
“Today’s con artists combine new technologies with the same old psychological tricks, to get otherwise alert victims to lower their defenses and fall prey to a bogus story,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “Unfortunately, too many people learn that they were conned the hard way – after losing thousands of dollars or becoming victims of identity theft.”
To help New Jerseyans recognize and prevent fraud before falling victim, the Division today launched “Fighting Fraud,” a new series of consumer education seminars that will reach all 21 counties during the next year. The inaugural “Fighting Fraud” presentation was made for an audience of approximately 150 senior citizens at Second Home Sweet Home Adult Medical Daycare in Elizabeth.
“At the Division, we are angered by the stories of New Jerseyans being victimized by criminals who don’t think twice about telling lie after lie to steal senior citizens’ retirement savings,” Acting Director Lee said. “New Jerseyans can protect themselves simply by being aware that these frauds are out there, and by refusing to send money or personal information to anyone without taking time to stop, think, and verify whether the person contacting them is legitimate.”
The “Fighting Fraud” presentations include law enforcement footage of an overseas “boiler room” that was the heart of a multimillion-dollar lottery and telemarketing scam. The footage shows now-convicted fraudsters speaking by phone with an undercover FBI agent and an actual victim, seeking to coerce them into sending a money order to eventually claim their fictional winnings from a nonexistent sweepstakes.
Acting Director Lee himself participated in the prosecution of this scam in his prior position as Federal prosecutor.
The “Fighting Fraud” presentations touch on the various techniques that scammers use to trick their victims into sending money or personal information; the proliferation of phone-based scams as well as phishing scams that seek personal information via email or other electronic messages; and the basic steps every New Jerseyan should take when someone offers money, demands money, or asks for personal information.
Advice for Consumers:
Fortunately, senior citizens and their loved ones can protect themselves against fraud with awareness, vigilance, and common sense.
Most importantly, consumers should never
send money, give away their
personal or financial information, or click on a
link or attachment, without first taking the time to make sure the communication they received is valid.
Consumers are advised to independently verify the information in an email, phone call, or letter. Use another source to find a separate phone number for the person or entity that supposedly made the communication, in order to verify whether it was genuine.
Just as important, consumers should never act without thinking. This is true especially when dealing with a sales pitch or a threat that says "you must act right away." And even more so if the consumer is told, "keep this confidential and don't tell anyone about this deal."
Just as with the Grandparent Scam, con artists try to create a false sense of urgency and a need for secrecy. They know consumers are much more likely to become victims if their emotions are higher – and if they are prevented from discussing the scam with a friend or relative.
Additional Information from the Division of Consumer Affairs:
The Division of Consumer Affairs educates senior citizens and other New Jerseyans through a robust schedule of public events. The Division's public outreach calendar can be found at
Consumers seeking information about fraud prevention can find additional information in the following, free publications on the Division's website:
- The Division's "Cyber Safe NJ" includes important consumer protection information on "The Basics of Cyber Safety," "Preventing Identity Theft," and "Controlling Your Privacy."
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an
online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its
website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on
Facebook , and check our online calendar of upcoming
Consumer Outreach events.