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New York State police warn of increase in scams targeting elderly citizens

New York State Police
Posted at 11:59 AM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 11:59:31-04

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York State police issued a warning Wednesday about an increase in scams targeting elderly citizens.

According to police, NYSP in Troop A handled 442 fraud cases in 2021. This year, as of March, it has handled 113.

"It is estimated that over $1,000,000 has been exchanged from the victims in State Police cases in 2021 and $500,000 so far in 2022," a release says.

Police said the scams include a few different scenarios:

  • The caller claiming to be a family member and has an illness or was arrested. This caller will put urgency on helping them and not to contact other family.
  • The caller claims to be a law enforcement official with a family member under arrest demanding bail or funds for them.
  • The caller claims to be law enforcement claiming that your Social Security Number or Bank Accounts have been “compromised”. The caller will ask important information to “verify” the identity of the person they are calling, getting the victims information including SS# and bank account numbers.
  • Emails or texts with an URGENT message stating that your Social Security number, bank account, cable provider, Apple account, Amazon account, Netflix account has been “compromised” and needs immediate attention.
  • Police agencies do not contact family for bail money
  • Police agencies do not ask for money to fix SS#’s or bank accounts
  • Police agencies do not send text messages asking for account information as part of an investigation.

The caller in most scenarios will advise the victim to get a specific amount of money in multiple ways including:

  • Purchasing gift cards from popular stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Target and other big retail stores and then reading over the phone to the caller or sending the bar code on the back of the gift card to the caller. These gift card increments could be anywhere from $50-$500.
  • Sending cash by mail in a box packaged a certain way the caller will explain, usually wrapped in tinfoil or heavily taped package.
  • Purchasing Bitcoin or Crypto Currency with a QR code provided by the caller.

Police issued the following tips to avoid being scammed:

  • RESIST the urge to act immediately- no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • VERIFY the caller’s identity- Ask questions that a Stanger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to see if the information is true.
  • DO NOT send cash, gift cards or money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!
  • DO NOT give your personal banking account information by email or over the phone OR log into bank accounts as directed by the caller (Screen Mirroring).
  • If you have parents or elderly people in your family, take the time to explain these scams to them.