Help available for victims of scams

SOURCE: METRO IMAGES

Northeast Victim Services, 8014 Castor Ave., is alerting people about scams that have targeted local people.

One scam targeted parishioners of Maternity BVM and St. John Cantius churches.

Some BVM parishioners received emails and phone calls asking them to buy iTunes gift cards. The requests supposedly came from the Rev. Paul Quinter, the longtime pastor, asking that the individuals scratch off the password of the cards, which were to go to a parishioner with cancer. Quinter does not own a computer and never made such a request.

St. John Cantius parishioners were targeted in a similar way with emails and text messages, with the cards supposedly going to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In another scam, a supposed computer company has called people to alert them about a computer virus. The targets are instructed to buy Google Play gift cards and provide the scratched-off passwords.

Another scam tells people they’ve won a lottery, but need to pay the taxes before they can get paid. One man sent $27,000 to what he thought was Publishers Clearing House, but he was not an actual winner.

Colleen Costello, the victim advocate at Northeast Victim Services, said people who think they’ve been scammed can visit her office or call 215-332-3888. Costello can put people in touch with the victim assistance officer in the client’s home police district. Northeast Victim Services can also provide safety tips and work with the client to seek reimbursement.

Costello said people should not be embarrassed for falling for a scam, that they should make a police report.

The victim advocate encouraged senior citizens to tell their family and friends about potential scams. They can also join a senior group to share their experience. If scam artists are persistent, the individual should consider changing their phone number. ••