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Posted on: January 26, 2018

Orange County Consumer Affairs Office warns residents of “grandparents scam”

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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Chuck Mitchell are warning seniors about fake emergency calls that ask for money to help a grandchild who is in trouble.

According to the National Consumers League (NCL), in a typical “grandparent scam”, the con artist calls or emails the victim posing as a relative in distress or someone claiming to represent the relative (such as a lawyer or law enforcement agent). The caller explains that the grandparent’s relative is in trouble and needs the grandparent to wire funds that will be used for bail money, lawyer’s fees, hospital bills, or another fictitious expense.

The victim is urged not to tell anyone, such as the parent of the “grandchild” because they don’t want them aware of or burdened by the situation. The grandparent often complies and is tricked out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

“The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is often a special one,” Neuhaus said. “It is troubling to think that our seniors, who have worked so hard all their lives, can be victims of a crime that steals, not only their money, but their peace of mind. I want seniors to know we are on their side and here to help. If they have a question, concern or complaint, I urge them to contact our Consumer Affairs department.”

To detect and avoid the Grandparent Scam, NCL’s Fraud Center recommends the following tips:

  • Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills
  • Before sending funds, independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative) the scam artist is claiming to be (or represent) at a known phone number to verify the details of the story.
  • Scam artists most often request wire transfers for payment. Any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously.
  • Be aware that fraudsters attempting the Grandparent Scam may call late at night to confuse potential victims.
  • Consumers who have been victims of this scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement, their state attorney general and NCL’s Fraud Center at Fraud.org.

“The best defense against crimes such as this is to hang up or ask for a phone number to call the person back,” Mitchell said. “Always be skeptical, ask questions to verify the caller’s identity and never share credit card or bank account information. It is also important to know that the only way to help stop these crimes is to report the incident.”

Consumers who have been victims of this scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement. For more information, contact Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Chuck Mitchell at 845-360-6703 or [email protected].

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