Keeping Lowell Safe: Police Beat for January 2022

Lowell Police Department Hybrid vehicle

One Lowell resident fell victim to what is believed to be an overseas scam, and another ended up with an envelope full of fake money. Those were among the larger cases handled by the Lowell Police Department last month, but they were far from the only police activity in January 2022.

In total, the department logged 200 reports for the month, and those included the following:

  • 33 general and motorist assists
  • 27 assists to other agencies
  • 15 suspicious situations
  • 11 traffic accidents
  • 3 larcenies
  • 3 frauds
  • 2 non-aggravated assault
  • 2 drug law violations
  • 1 driving under the influence
  • 1 juvenile runaway

Lowell officers also made 110 traffic stops that resulted in 17 citations.

Fake Travel Website Created by Scammers

A resident had a travel voucher from an airline that she was trying to redeem. Since wait times for the company’s customer service phone line were so long, the resident looked online for a way to redeem it.

She went to what she thought was the airline’s website and made contact with a representative that way. The representative convinced the resident to purchase a large travel package for $17,000. She was instructed to purchase gift cards in order to complete the purchase. After buying gift cards and giving their numbers to the alleged representative, she became aware she was the victim of a scam.

The Lowell police are investigating the matter but say it is unlikely the money can be recovered. In many of these cases, the thief is overseas and cannot be found or prosecuted.

Police Chief Chris Hurst reminds people that no legitimate company will request payment via gifts cards. These requests are always the sign of a scam. Unlike credit cards and many debit cards, which offer fraud protection, there is no way to get your money back if you pay with gift cards.

Fake Cash Used for Computer Purchase

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A different resident was selling a gaming computer online for $1,200. They found a local buyer and made arrangements to complete the sale in person.

The buyer gave the seller an envelope of cash and took off with the computer. Only then did the seller realize the cash was fake. While it appears the buyer created a fake profile to connect with the seller, the police say there is still a way to trace who created the account, and they feel confident they will be able to identify the person.

Detective Gordy Lauren says he is working to designate a spot outside the station for online sales transaction. This location would be identified with a sign and put under surveillance so if a sale goes bad, the police have a record.

In the meantime, residents can call the station and ask for an officer to serve as a witness to a sale in the police department lobby during business hours. This is an especially good option if the item being purchased or sold is expensive. If the other party does not want the police to witness the transaction, that could be a red flag.

Online Purchases Help Crack Case

A Lowell High School student had a bookbag stolen from their vehicle. Inside the bookbag was a credit card that was used by a juvenile to make purchases from Amazon. Those purchases were then shipped to the alleged thief’s house.

The police visited the person’s home, and the juvenile led officers to other items taken during the theft. That person is now facing two felonies and a misdemeanor as a result, including possession of a financial transaction device and possessing and concealing stolen property.

Charges in Middle School Arson

In an update from a previous case, police say a juvenile has been charged with 3rd degree arson for a fire set last year in a Lowell Middle School bathroom. Damages in the incident are estimated at $70,000.

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