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Colonie police warn of 'grandparent scam'

September 26, 2019 10:21 AM

At least three senior citizens in Colonie are out nearly $20,000 after they were hit by what police are calling the "grandparent scam."

Colonie police said scammers tell the grandparents that their grandchild needs cash for bail.

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Police said there have been four cases reported overall, only one of those scam attempts failed. In the three successful cases, these scammers collected about $20,000 total - $9,500 from the first victim, $9,000 from the second, and $1,000 from the third.

Though you may have heard about these scams before, police said the latest cases are a bit different.

Colonie Police Lieutenant Robert Winn said these perpetrators are offering to have someone come pick up the money as opposed to telling the victims to purchase pre-paid cards, initiate a wire transfer or mail the cash.

That's proven to be a good thing in this case, because police were able to get their hands on security camera footage which shows a suspect entering one of the victim's apartment buildings to collect the cash.

The scammers tell their victims they're sending someone from personal currier service on behalf of the bail bondsman or public defender they're impersonating.

Winn said in some cases, the scammers will impersonate the grandchildren themselves in an attempt to get the grandparents to act quickly and emotionally.

Winn said taking your time in a situation like this is helpful. For the most part, he said if someone is calling you out of the blue asking for a sum of money to be paid immediately for a service or transaction, it's likely a scam.

As for how scammers get the information they use against you, Winn said victims usually only have themselves to blame for that. He said in the four cases they’re working on now, the victims inadvertently gave scammers the information they needed to convince them their loved ones were in trouble.

"Be very careful about releasing any kind of information, personal information, banking information, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth if you're speaking to anyone that you don't know on the phone," Winn said.

As for whether or not the suspects will be caught, Winn said it's unclear if the suspects are even still in this area.

"It's always a possibility. We have found in this area sometimes we will be targeted by crews of criminals from outside the area. They will come here commit their crimes and then leave," Winn said. "It does hamper law-enforcement efforts to identify them. We don't have any information one way or another but that's certainly always one of our concerns in any of these."

Winn shared these tips for keeping yourself and your money safe from scammers:

  • Ask which police department and officer is handling the case, then call the department yourself.
  • Google search the number that the scammer used. Often it's been reported as a scam number.
  • Try to get in touch with your family members to verify the information the caller gave you for yourself.

Anyone with information is asked to call Colonie police at (518) 783-2754.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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