UPDATE: Fair Lawn police tonight revealed that what was originally broadcast as a bank robbery this afternoon actually involved a man who was scammed into believing he had to pay an $800 ransom to free his supposedly kidnapped brother-in-law.
It was the first of three such incident to occur today, a Fair Lawn police spokesperson said.
“While the initial report came in as such, further investigation reveals that the resident passing the notes to the bank teller was a victim of a scam,” Sgt. Richard Schultz said, in an email to the media, more than three hours after the incident.
Officers responded to a holdup alarm triggered by a an employee at the Chase branch on Saddle River Road at 3:27 this afternoon, Schultz said.
“Chase bank security stated when they attempted to contact the bank teller who triggered the alarm, the
teller stated they could not talk and abruptly hung up the phone,” the sergent wrote.
“Officers from the Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Paramus, Fair Lawn police, Bergen County Police, Bergen Sheriff and New Jersey State Police departments responded to the bank branch and quickly established a perimeter,” Schultz reported. “Soon after the [s]uspect exited the bank and was taken into custody without incident or harm.
“Detectives from the Fair Lawn Police learned through their interviews that the [s]uspect had received a phone call from an unknown individual claiming to have his brother-in-law hostage and were demanding $800 ransom,” he added.
According to Schultz’s news release:
“The caller refused to allow the [s]uspect to hang up the phone and remained on the phone until the
[s]uspect was taken into custody.
“Fearing for his brother-in-law’s safety, the suspect drove to the Chase bank and attempted to withdraw money from his personal account.
“Hoping for a police response, the [s]uspect passed several notes to the teller informing the bank of the hostage/ransom demand. When the teller received the first note, the holdup alarm was triggered; fearing that the alleged hostage taker would hear her talking with the bank security, she abruptly hung up the phone when they called thus triggering the initial bank robbery report.
“The Fair Lawn resident never made any threats toward the teller or bank and was visibly scared throughout the whole ordeal until officers were able to establish the safe well[-]being of his brother-in-law.
“The man was later released from custody as it appears that he was a victim of a scam.
“This was the third such scam received by the Fair Lawn Police on this date but the first that had progressed to this extreme. The other two were received after the Chase bank incident.”
Police from several departments have been warning about such scams.
In this case, all three calls came from, or were rerouted from, the Maryland area, Schultz said:
312-206-5134 (Cingular Wireless- Chicago, IL)
301-653-5495 (Cingular Wireless- Waldoff, MD)