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NY elderly targeted by scammers pretending to be their grandchildren

New York AG warns scammers are targeting lonely grandparents by pretending to be their own grandchildren and asking for money amid COVID lockdown restrictions

  • In a Wednesday press release, New York Attorney General Letitia James warned New Yorkers of the ‘GrandParent Scam’ 
  • The scam involves the caller dialing the unsuspecting elderly person and then them falsely claiming that they are in an emergency
  • Scammers will immediately request money, explicitly telling the victims not to call the grandchild’s parents because that will cause alarm or worry
  • There was a 21 percent increase in the number of complaints received of people impersonating family members and friends, according to figures from the FTC
  • In New York alone, there were 1,359 complaints in 2020.

Grandparents in New York have been getting calls from scammers pretending to be their grandkids and asking for money, state officials said.

In a Wednesday press release, New York Attorney General Letitia James warned New Yorkers of the ‘GrandParent Scam’ and provided ways in which the elderly could work to stop the would be scams.

The release comes amid a 21 percent increase in the number of complaints received of people impersonating family members and friends, according to figures from the Federal Trade Commission. In New York alone, there were 1,359 complaints in 2020. 

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In a Wednesday press release, New York Attorney General Letitia James warned New Yorkers of the ‘GrandParent Scam’ (stock photo)

‘Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many grandparents have not seen their grandchildren for months and may be especially susceptible to this common and despicable scam,’ said Attorney General James. 

‘I urge all New Yorkers to be on the alert for this type of fraud, and to protect themselves and their family members by following these tips. We should all be speaking with elderly family members and warning them that scammers are ready to prey on their love of family in an effort to take their money.’ 

The scam involves the caller dialing the unsuspecting elderly person and then them falsely claiming that they are in an emergency. Scammers will immediately request money, explicitly telling the victims not to call the grandchild's parents

The scam involves the caller dialing the unsuspecting elderly person and then them falsely claiming that they are in an emergency. Scammers will immediately request money, explicitly telling the victims not to call the grandchild’s parents

The scam involves the caller dialing the unsuspecting elderly person and then them falsely claiming that they are in an emergency. Scammers will immediately request money, explicitly telling the victims not to call the grandchild’s parents because that will cause alarm or worry.

‘The caller may also pose as an attorney, a bail bondsperson, or a law enforcement official contacting the grandparent on behalf of a grandchild,’ the release states. 

Scammers often call in the middle of the night or early in the morning to take advantage of their victims, who may not be alert at the time. Victims are told to pay in cash payments by mail or to get prepaid debit or gift cards, reading the serial number on the cards. 

‘Victims often lose thousands of dollars and the money is rarely recovered, as the scammers can be calling from anywhere in the world,’ the release reads. ‘The scam is severely underreported, as many victims are often embarrassed and do not want to tell anyone that they fell for the scam.’

Attorney General James does provide tips to help fight against the scam, including telling grandparents to take a second and try to verify what the emergency is by calling family and friends.

'Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many grandparents have not seen their grandchildren for months and may be especially susceptible to this common and despicable scam,' Attorney General James said

‘Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many grandparents have not seen their grandchildren for months and may be especially susceptible to this common and despicable scam,’ Attorney General James said

Elderly people are also advised to contact their local police department in an effort to confirm whether or not their loved one has actually been detained. 

Those who do send money to loved ones should never do so through the mail and should never purchase pre-paid debit cards with the purpose of transferring the money, the release states. 

AG James also advised for New Yorkers to make passwords with their loved ones and to set their social media profiles to limit information that would be available to scammers.  

Those who have been targeted by these scammers should file a complaint through the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, which can be found online

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