Warning after New Jersey woman loses $11,000 in telephone scam

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Police are warning residents after a 51-year-old Linden woman reported to police that she lost $11,000 in a telephone scam that began on October 23.

The victim said she received an urgent message on her answering machine from "Officer Joe Hamilton" of the IRS for her husband. When she returned the call, she was informed by the "officer" that her husband and she were guilty of money laundering because they sent money to Greece via Western Union. The woman's husband confirmed to her that he did recently send money to his mother in Greece.

The "officer" went on to say that to avoid prison, they would have to pay a fine to the IRS. He then asked for the victim's cell phone number and told her he would call her the next day.

On October 24 at 11 a.m., the victim received a call on her cell phone and was instructed to go purchase several Vanilla Reload Network Cards at several local stores. The woman complied and purchased close to $3,000 in cards and gave the "officer" the PIN numbers so they could be cashed.

When the victim returned home, she received a call from a man who said he was the "officer's supervisor." He then threatened her that she still needed to pay an additional $8,400 in fines or he would send them to prison. The victim then purchased the additional cards and sent him the PIN numbers.

Subsequently, "Officer Joe Hamilton" called back and demanded an additional $6,000 in fines. When the victim returned to the store, a cashier told her that the Vanilla Reload Cards are often used in scams and not to purchase them. The woman then believed that she was victimized and contacted the police.

Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact police.
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