Police have issued an alert about recent scams targeting residents for large sums of money in New York State.
In the past month, state police in Columbia County have been investigating reports of a scam where callers pretend that the victim’s grandchild or relative has been arrested and a bail bondsman needs to be paid, New York State Police reported.
Police said in certain cases, as much as $30,000 has been requested.
In a recent incident, victims left $12,000 outside of their home to be picked up. Victims have also sent the money through the mail.
State Police said scammers have also recently tried to convince victims that a relative was involved in an accident and requested funds be transferred for medical payments.
State Police shared the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- 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 bonds person, 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 the information available to scammers, such as the name of grandchildren.
Residents who have been targeted by these scams can submit a Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau online complaint form or by calling 800-771-7755.
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