BRISTOL — Bristol police responded to a report of a potential scam on Sept. 14. A senior citizen living on Mountain Street received a letter from a company that claimed to be based in California. The resident was told to send a fee of $3,000 in order to claim his prize.
The scammers didn’t get any money this time; police were contacted, and the resident was advised that if he sent the money he wasn’t likely to see it again.
Chief Kevin Gibbs said the police department had seen similar scams in the past, and victims were not always so lucky.
Gibbs said a typical scam will begin when a letter, email or telephone call arrives informing a recipient that they have won a large sum of money. In order to claim the prize, the person is first supposed to wire a “tax” or “processing fee.”
“But they’re sending money they can’t get back, and then they never hear from them again,” said Gibbs.
“We’ve had a couple of cases where people are actually contacted a second time, after the initial loss,” he said. “It’s important that people know this happens.”
Bristol police, in other recent activity:
• On Sept. 10 received a report of a hit-and-run in the Shaw’s supermarket parking lot. One vehicle was damaged and no one was injured. A suspect was identified. The case is still pending.
• On Sept. 11 assisted staff at Mount Abraham Union High School with a juvenile problem. A student had run from the building; he was located and returned.
• On Sept. 11 responded to a fire alarm at Shaw’s, which turned out to be a false alarm.
• On the evening of Sept. 11 hosted Bristol’s second forum on crime and drugs in Holley Hall.
• On Sept. 12 responded to Champlain Farms, where a man was reporting that he had a bullet in his liver. Police arrived and did not notice any blood. The man clarified that 30 years ago, he had been shot in his backside, and the bullet had never been removed. He complained that he could feel the bullet moving and it was now in his liver or abdomen. Rescue was called and the man was transported to Porter Hospital.
The man was not a staff member at Champlain Farms; Gibbs said it was unclear why he was there.
• On Sept. 12 an officer attended a church meeting at the Bristol Christian Fellowship church on Rockydale Road, where a pastor (who had attended a training in Maine) had asked law enforcement officials to speak about the procedures for reporting child abuse. Police advised people in the meeting to report any abuse allegations they hear from a child to the Department of Children and Families. Pastors and members of the clergy are “mandatory reporters,” which means they are required to make a report to DCF when child abuse is suspected.
• On Sept. 13 responded to a report from a West Pleasant Street resident that a .38 Smith and Wesson handgun was missing from his home. The resident identified several suspects who had access to his residents during a month-long period when the gun was unaccounted for. The gun has not yet been located.
• Also on Sept. 13 responded to a report that a young woman had been assaulted by her boyfriend. The offense had been committed in Brandon, and the woman was referred to the Brandon Police Department and Rutland Family Court. She has since contacted both, Gibbs said.
• On Sept. 15 responded to Champlain Farms, where staff had found a used hypodermic needle in the men’s bathroom. Staff members attempted to identify when the restroom had been used, but were unable to identify a suspect.
On a related note, the public is advised that highway patrol officers have regularly been finding used hypodermic needles in trash cans. Gibbs said those who attempt to collect bottles or other redeemable items should exercise extreme caution, as needles may be loose among the trash or put inside bottles or cans. Children should be prevented from putting their hands in trash cans, he added.
• On Sept. 15 seized several marijuana plants from a field near Plank Road, after receiving a report from farm workers that the plants were growing around their corn.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there were no laws in place to protect victims of scams. It is a crime to “con” someone into giving money under false pretenses. However, in many cases, the offender is outside the jurisdiction of local police, and prosecuting them would be “difficult if not impossible,” according to Chief Gibbs. The online version has been amended and a correction will be issued in Thursday’s print addition.