WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Cell phones, social media and new payment systems are among tools that scammers are using to trick senior citizens in Westchester County out of thousands of dollars, according to officials.
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D- 17th District) warns senior citizens, caretakers and families of a spike in financial scams aimed at senior citizens.
“My constituents have been talked into giving thousands and thousands of dollars, because they’ve been told a grandchild is in serious trouble,” said Lowey in a press release. “Some have even spoken to someone they are sure is that grandchild. It is not. It’s an imposter who knows, as grandparents always tell me, information that only their grandchild would know, which generally, the crooks have learned form the Internet.
The scam Lowey spoke of usually involves an imposter impersonating a grandchild, who calls a grandparent and seeks financial assistance to escape a bad situation in a foreign country. A recent news report highlighted such a scam in which a grandparent gave up $20,000.
According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, elderly victims across the state lost $441,000 to the "Grandparent Scam" in 2012.
The uses of voice mimicry, attainable personal information from the Internet, and simpler ways to pay have made the scam more sophisticated, according to a press release.
“It’s hard to imagine a scam worse than one that preys on senior citizens,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I am committed to doing anything I can to prosecute consumer fraud across our state and to educating New Yorkers on how to avoid scams that target older adults. Programs like our state wide “Smart Seniors” initiative help seniors avoid becoming victims in the first place. I am pleased to join Congresswoman Lowey in getting the word out to seniors about how to recognize scams and stay safe."
If you or a senior citizen you know suspects that he or she is being scammed, or has been a victim of a scam, call the state Attorney General's Office hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or visit www.ag.ny.gov