Phone Scam Uses Threats, Targets the Elderly

June 19, 2011 Updated Jun 19, 2011 at 12:05 AM EDT

By WKBW News

June 19, 2011 Updated Jun 19, 2011 at 12:05 AM EDT

AMHERST, NY ( WKBW ) "This is really a cause for concern." That according to Peggy Penders of the Better Business Bureau, talking about the most recent phone scam to hit Western New York. It involves telemarketers that become insistent, angry, and even threatening.

Eyewitness News spoke to two individuals who received calls over the last few weeks.

Thomas London described his experience dealing with the caller. He was told to wire $300 to a business in Georgia to receIve an $800,000 prize.
"They got very upset that I didn't follow through with what I was told," he said.

Another instance came where telemarketers called Sally's parents. She asked that her last name not be revealed. "The problem was that the calls kept coming. They just figured they found a prospect here and they just kept on calling to the point of being harassment," she said.

The calls seem to target the elderly, who may be vulnerable to being pushed into sending money to the caller, especially if more force is used after the victim originally refuses.

Thomas London says when he refused to wire the caller money, things took a turn for the worse. "They got really in an uproar. Kind of yelling at me. 'You're not going to tell me how to run my business!'" he quoted the caller.

Sally said it went to a new level when she refused. "And I said I can assure you I want no part, I don't want to hear any part of this scam of yours. And that's when he threatened me. He said if you don't listen to me you're going to find yourself dead in the morning," she said.

The Better Business Bureau says to sit down with elder parents and warn them, and for everyone to take steps to protect themselves from telemarketers.

"Ask questions. Find out the name of the company. The thing you should never do is hand out your personal information," Penders said.

These calls have been focused on Amherst, Lockport, and Grand Island. If you receive any calls, contact the Better Business Bureau or local law enforcement. Both warn to never send money or give out information to anyone over the phone to avoid becoming the victim of a scam.