Major R. Christopher West
Troop G Commander
The New York State Police in Clifton Park are warning citizens of a scam that preys on grandparents after a local senior citizen lost over $9,000 in what is known as the “Grandparent Scam” or “Family Emergency Scam”.
- On June 1st, 2021, an 87-year-old woman received a call from a male purporting to be an attorney, who said that her grandson had been arrested and needed $36,000 for bail. When the victim told the caller she couldn’t come up with that sum, the bail was “adjusted” and she was asked for $9,200. The victim retrieved the cash and waited for a currier who arrived at her residence to pick up it up.
The New York State Police offer the following tips to protect against the Grandparent Scam:
- Take a pause. Scammers create a sense of urgency to prey on victims’ emotions and their love for family members.
- Verify any supposed emergency by calling friends and family before sending money. This is especially important if a potential victim has been warned not to do so.
- A grandparent may think they would know whether they were speaking to their own grandchild or to an imposter, but it is easy to be fooled. The caller may be crying or the background may be noisy, or the caller may claim the connection is bad.
- If the caller purports to be a bail bondsperson, ask where the relative is being held and contact the facility directly. Grandparents can also call their local police department, where officers may be able to call the jail and confirm the story.
- Be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly asking to be sent money.
- Never send cash through the mail.
- Never purchase pre-paid debit cards or gift cards for the purpose of transferring money.
- Develop a secret code or “password” with family members that can be used to verify the identity of family members over the phone.
- Ask a question that only the real grandchild would know the answer to, such as “what was the name of your first pet?”
- Set Facebook and other social media settings to private to limit information available to scammers, such as the name of grandchildren.
Additional information about the Grandparent Scam can be found on the FTC.gov website https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/scammers-use-fake-emergencies-steal-your-money