Would-be victim of so-called ‘grandparent scam’ helps foil the crime

Two people are facing charges after they were accused in a so-called “grandparent scam” in Cranford.

News 12 Staff

Dec 3, 2022, 3:24 AM

Updated 596 days ago


Two people are facing charges after they were accused in a so-called “grandparent scam” in Cranford.
Nancy Van Brunt says that she was almost a victim of the scam.
“The voice on the call said, ‘Grandma?’ I said, ‘Jack?’ so that was who I was talking to,” she says.
But Nancy’s daughter Vanessa Van Brunt is a former Cranford police officer, and she knew that this was not a real call.
“I said immediately, ‘Mom, this isn't Jack. This is a scam,’” Vanessa says.
Police say that the scam involves a frantic caller pretending to be a loved one of the target. They share a story where the person desperately needs money to be bailed out of a situation.
“He said, ‘Take this case number now. They gave me a public defender,’ and he would call me in just a few minutes,” Nancy says.
The caller told Nancy that she should go to the bank and take out $9,000 and then her grandson would be OK. Luckily, Vanessa knew what to do to catch the scammers.
“Immediately, in my head, I went into police mode and wanted to bring him in to get the money and set this individual up,” Vanessa says.
She says she knew to get a detective involved and had a wad of money ready on the porch to wait for the person trying to scam Nancy.
“This is probably the most satisfying arrest that I've been involved with,” Vanessa says. “There is so much satisfaction in helping someone who is a pure victim.”
Cranford Police Capt. Matthew Nazzaro says that he is proud of how his former officer handled the situation.
“Please tell your loved ones, please let them know this scam is prevalent and it’s running rampant in our state,” Nazzaro says. “[Vanessa] knew this scam existed, immediately sensed it and took the steps to involve the Cranford Police Department.”
Police charged 19-year-old Melody Sandoval, of the Bronx, and 19-year-old Jeury Gonzalez, of Tarrytown, New York, with the crime.
Police say that there are several things to look out for so that people do not fall for this scam.
Be mindful of someone unfamiliar calling urgently asking for money. The scammer will often pressure the victim to stay on the phone to keep from calling the loved one to check on them. The scammer may also claim to be hospitalized or stuck in a foreign country.
Anyone who thinks they may be victim to this scam, should contact their local police department.

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