Scamming old people has always been a relatively easy thing to do — and it just got easier, thanks to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
In an attempt to alert the public about a common “grandparents scam” that’s taken New York seniors for nearly $500,000 over the past several months, Schneiderman has inadvertently provided anyone with Internet access the blueprints for how to do it.
It’s fairly simple — all you need is a phone, a creative story, and loving grandparents dumb enough to send money to a complete stranger.
Here’s how to do it — compliments of the AG’s Office:
Seniors will receive an unexpected call from someone who claims to be
a friend or relative. A typical scenario targets grandparents with the
caller claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter. The caller says
there is an emergency and asks victim to send money immediately. For
example, they might say, “I’m in Canada and I’m trying to get home but
my car broke down and I need money right away to get it fixed.” Or they
may claim to have been mugged, or been in a car accident, or need money
for bail or to pay customs fees to get back into the United States from
another country. They may also pose as an attorney or law enforcement
official contacting a potential victim on behalf of a friend or
Typically, the caller says they are embarrassed about what
has happened to them, and asks the grandparent not to tell anyone else
in the family.
A scammer pretends to know the names of a victim’s friends or
relatives, however, in some cases they don’t. For example, the scammer
may say “Hi grandma,” hoping that she actually has a grandson. If she
asks, “David, is that you?” the scammer will say “Yes!” Often these
crooks will call in the middle of the night and take advantage of the
fact that one may not be alert enough to ask more questions, and the
victim may not want to disturb other people by calling them to confirm
the information. Sometimes the scammersdo know the names of one’s
friends or relatives, as they can obtain that information from a variety
According to Schneiderman, the scammers have made off
with at least $440,000 over the past several months, hitting old folks
from Nassau County to Buffalo.
“It’s despicable that these
scammers are preying on the vulnerability and generosity of senior
citizens who are duped into thinking they are helping out a family
member in need,” Schneiderman says. “Instead, these dishonest
individuals are trying to steal money from seniors.”
If you think you may have been scammed, Schneiderman says to give his office a call at 800-771-7755.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 8, 2012