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Scams targeting the elderly: what you need to know

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 17:55:41-04

Your elderly family members are probably some of the kindest people you know, and experts say there are scammers out there just waiting to take advantage of that kindness.

"They're very trusting. They come from just that generation where they trust explicitly," said Captain Bruce Elliott with the Nigara County Sheriff's Office.

Captain Elliott said there's been a rise in scams targeting the elderly, and the schemes are getting more elaborate.

"In the past what we've seen is usually the gift cards, and they'll have the person call them back and read the numbers off," he said.

Now they're asking for direct cash.

"They ask for a certain amount of money to be put in a box, wrapped up like a package and leaving on the doorstep, and they would send somebody to pick it up," he said.

An 87-year-old woman in Gasport did just that with $8,500 thinking she was sending it as bail money for her grandson. Fortunately for her, police stepped in just in time.

Detective Darren Longboat with East Aurora PD said any caller asking the elderly for money is a major red flag.

"It always involves 'Jeez I need money, I have to pay for the attorney, I have to pay for the damages.' They may actually use the name for a real attorney that you would find in the yellow pages," he said.

The biggest way to fight back is to verify the information they give you. Call your family and double check, call a neighbor or friend or call your local police station.

Captain Elliott said hospitals and jails will never call a relative and ask for money directly.

He added that he confronted one scammer over the phone, and said they do not care about consequences.

"The scammer just laughed and said 'You got this one but I have at least 10 of $10,000 probably coming to me today.' And it was a big joke to him on the other end of the phone that he's scammed 10 other people today for at least $10,000," said Captain Elliott.