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Grandparents scammed out of thousands of dollars in Western New York

Posted at 5:28 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 17:28:51-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It only takes one phone call to be scammed out of thousands of dollars, and seniors in Western New York are falling victim to “the grandparent scam.”

“It seems like new scams are constantly evolving,” Lancaster Police Captain Jeff Smith said.

On May 2, Lancaster Police Department sent out a warning about a scam aimed at elderly parents or grandparents.

“So we had a resident in Lancaster get a call from which she thought was her granddaughter saying that she was in jail, involved in an accident and needed money," Smith said.

The victim then proceeded to help the supposed grandchild by withdrawing thousands of dollars from the bank. A courier later came to pick up the payment.

“They’ll have a frantic person on the other end either pretending to be a grandchild or pretending to be law enforcement," communications director for the Better Business Bureau Melanie McGovern said. "Once that phone rings you pick it up. You hear what’s going on on the other end and your instincts are just to react.”

This immediate reaction has left several grandparents out of thousands of dollars.

“In Lancaster we’ve had two that have been reported in the last couple of weeks,” Captain Smith said.

The FBI has even sent out a PSA warning everyone to be cautious of these scams and not to take the bait.

“Resist that urge to act right away," McGovern said. "Do your homework. Know that that’s a scam. Just hang up and go about your day, and then maybe call that grandchild.”

If you think you’ve been scammed, you can report it to your local police department.