A New York man and woman were arrested after attempting to defraud an alert Cranford resident during an attempted grandparent scam on November 29, 2022.
At approximately 0900 hours, police received a call from a Cranford resident reporting that an individual identifying themselves as a New York Prosecutor’s Office had their grandchild in police custody. The scam caller stated that the grandchild was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident which required them to be bailed out of jail. The alert resident immediately recognized that this was a scam because another family member made contact with the grandchild - confirming that he was not in police custody. With the fraudster still on the line, another family member contacted the Cranford Police Department to report this event. Immediately, Detective Lieutenant John Swandrak, Detective Lieutenant Spencer Durkin and members of the Cranford Police Investigative Division arrived on scene and established surveillance on the resident’s home. The scam caller indicated that a member of the New York Prosecutor’s Office would arrive to retrieve cash bail left in a package on the resident’s front porch.
At approximately 1215 hours, police observed a woman, 19 year-old Melody Sandoval of Bronx, New York, approach the front door of the resident’s home to retrieve the package of cash bail from the resident’s porch. After a brief on-scene investigation, Sandoval was taken into custody. Shortly thereafter, police located Sandoval’s accomplice, 19 year-old Jeury Gonzalez of Tarrytown New York, in a 2005 Honda parked on an adjacent street and arrested him as well. The Union County Prosecutor’s Officer approved charges against Sandoval and Gonzalez for 3rd Degree Theft by Deception. Both were processed and provided a Superior Court Appearance Date.
Chief Ryan J. Greco commended the resident’s quick-thinking in calling the Cranford Police Department as this incident was unfolding. “These grandparent scams tap into a family members’ emotions, and the scam artists are relentless in their goal of defrauding victims of large sums of money,” he said. He noted that typically, the fraudulent caller will pretend to be from law enforcement or an attorney’s office. In light of bail reform, bail is rarely used in the State of New Jersey and residents should immediately be suspicious of any individuals who are willing to pick up large sums of cash in person to pay for legal bills, bail, or fines.
Residents are encouraged to share this story with family members who may not have access to social media to prevent future acts of fraud from occurring.
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Press Release by Captain Matthew R. Nazzaro
PIO- Cranford Police Department
908-709-3990 / firstname.lastname@example.org