Scams Increasing

Scams targeting senior citizens are on the rise, according to the New York State Police.

The New York State Police is issuing a special advisory about the scams.  They identify some of the most common scenarios recently reported.

Authorities say that callers often claim to be a family member who has an illness or who has been arrested.  Sometimes scammers will pretend to be a representative of law enforcement who has arrested family member. The scammer will then demand money for bail.  Another common tactic is for the caller to pretend to be a law enforcement or bank official who says that a Social Security number has been compromised.  The caller /scammer will then ask information to verify and validate the identity of the victim.  In the process, the scammer gets valuable, personally identifying information that can then be used to steal the victim's identity.  Another common tactic for scammers is to pretend to be from a known and popular business, especially an online or subscription service, and request information after convincing victims that their accounts have been compromised.

Scammers can get creative with payment methods as well.  Sometimes scammers will ask victims or potential victims to buy gift cards from well-known retailers or prepaid money cards.  The amount of the cards could be large or small.

Police say that scammers could instruct the victim to pay by purchasing bitcoin or cryptocurrency.  Callers will often have QR codes available to facilitate these purchases.

The NYSP says that scammers also often ask victims to send cash, often in boxes wrapped in tinfoil or tape.

The New York State Police and other law enforcement agencies are urging residents to not click on any e-mail that looks suspicious, and to be aware of messages marked "urgent," as scammers often use the threat of urgent action to coerce people into giving up information that they would otherwise question.

Police say that they:

  • do not contact family to pay bail money
  • do not ask for money to fix Social Security numbers or bank accounts
  • do not ask for bank or credit card account information as part of an investigation.

What to Do if You Have Paid a Scammer

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a checklist of things to do if a resident paid a scammer.  There is no guarantee, however, that the victim will get his or her money back.

Victims should call police first and give authorities as much information as they can about the scam and scammer.  Notify the bank, gift card company, or retailer so that they can deactivate the card or lock the accounts.  If the money was sent via mail, contact the United States Postal Service to begin an investigation.

Verify, Verify, Verify

Account information should not be given out over the telephone unless the identity of the caller is verified.  Legitimate companies and agencies will provide their information and not object to information verification, even if that means that you have to call them back.

Police urge those with elderly members of their families to discuss potential scams with their loved ones, since callers often target those who are older.

According to the NYSP, "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."

Victims are often unable to get back their money once it is discovered that they have been scammed.

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