Original Post | By Damien Fisher Union Leader Correspondent Nov 6, 2020
Keene police say a local bank teller helped stop an elderly resident from handing over a large sum of money to a scammer.
Now, Massachusetts resident Starlyn Lara, 26, of Hyde Park, is charged with helping rip off the elderly resident using a “grandson” telephone scam, according to police.
Police say the elderly resident got a call on Monday from someone presenting themselves as a “grandson” who was in trouble. The “grandson” told the resident that they were in trouble and an attorney would be calling. Soon, a fake attorney called the elderly resident and told them the “grandson” needed a large amount of money for bail.
The elderly resident withdrew cash and was instructed to go to the parking lot of a Keene business. There, Lara presented himself as a courier for the attorney and allegedly took the money, according to police.
The fake attorney called the resident the next day saying that more money was needed for the “grandson” and the resident went back to the bank to withdraw more money, according to police. The bank teller became suspicious about the cash withdrawal and engaged the elderly resident in a conversation, uncovering the scam. The teller convinced the resident to contact family members, who then called police.
On Wednesday, Keene police officers conducted a sting on Lara, having the elderly resident deliver money to Lara, who was pretending to be the “courier.”
Lara is charged with attempting to commit theft by deception and he is being held without bail.
Keene police say this type of scam is fueled by international criminal organizations who use identifying information from public records to convince the victims that they are legitimate.
New Hampshire Legal Aid Executive Director Sarah Mattson Dustin said scammers are using her organization in their calls, pretending to be legal aid lawyers.
One Manchester victim was told by someone pretending to be a public defender from NH Legal Assistance that he needed to send $18,000 for bail money for a grandson, according to Dustin. She said that NH Legal Assistance provides legal aid for civil cases at no cost, and is not associated with criminal cases, and no attorney with her organization would ask someone for money for any legal costs.
Keene police want anyone in the area who gets a suspected scam call to contact them at 357-9813.