Elderly couple pays $12,000 in "grandparents scam"

Posted at 11:04 PM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 23:04:25-04

New York State Police are warning Allegany County residents about a scam that is making the rounds in the Amity area that has claimed at least two victims.

Police say an elderly couple received a phone call Thursday afternoon from a man who claimed to be a police officer from another town. The caller said their grandson had been stopped for a traffic violation and drugs were found in the car. 

The grandparents were told that the grandson would need to pay $2,000 in bail and $4,000 in fines in addition to completing eight hours of community service.  The caller told them they could take care of the bail and fine by purchasing $6,000 in iTunes cards and calling back with the serial numbers on the cards. The grandparents did as they were instructed.

Friday morning the grandparents received another call, this time from someone claiming to be their grandson's lawyer.

This time, the "lawyer" told the grandparents that there was another defendant involved in the incident, and their grandson contacted that person even though he was not allowed to do so.  The "lawyer" told the grandparents they would have to provide the serial numbers for another $6,000 in iTunes cards. Again, the couple complied.

A third call came in, but this time a younger relative was at the house and took the call. The man knew it was a scam and hung up the phone, but the elderly couple had already been scammed out of $12,000.

New York State police recommend setting up a "secret password" with your family members so you ensure the call is valid.  They also remind residents to never give out any personal information or send money without verifying the information the caller is telling you.

If you have been a victim of a scam, please call police. The Allegany County Office for the Aging can also help.