They'll prey on your concern or on your fear - but electronic scammers have practically declared open season on shore folks from all walks of life.

The owner of a Toms River pet-grooming salon who was ordered to immediately transfer money or face discontinued electric service thought quickly. She wrote down the number of the caller who identified himself as a member of the "Disconnect Team" and checked with Jersey Central Power and Light and township police.

That number is now in the hands of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

In Manchester Township, a victim wasn't as fortunate, paying out almost $80,000 over four months to someone who he believed he was helping a Nigerian woman in a bind.

Police say the Whiting victim was targeted through The con artist, using the identity Joan Baldwin Abelita, claimed to have about $3,000,000 in an offshore account that was frozen by the Nigerian government over a tax claim. All that was needed, he was told, was enough money to settle the matter.

flickr, snowmentality

It took 18 transactions, but the victim finally called authorities, police said.

Law enforcement officials in Manchester and elsewhere strongly suggest several preventive steps to guard your savings and possessions from phone and web scams:

  • Never send money to unfamiliar destinations. regardless of the lure of profit or reward.
  • Be cautious with new acquaintances through websites and social networks.
  • Never offer personal data such as bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers unless you initiated the exchange and are certain of the recipient.
  • Reject outright anyone claiming that your personal computer is virus-stricken and requesting remote access for repairs. It ends with a costly demand for payment.
  • Seniors, remain alert for the granny scam - the call claiming to be from a grandchild in trouble, or a lawyer, demanding wire transfers for bail or other emergencies.