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Massena police chief sees increase in senior scam

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MASSENA - Massena Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said his department has recently seen an increase in one of the most common scams targeting seniors.

A phone call is made from someone claiming to be the senior’s grandchild. In many cases, the person on the other end of the line knows the name of the real grandchild and the nickname the grandchild uses for the senior, such as “Grammie” or “Pop.”

This scam relies on emotion and exploits the grandparent’s willingness to help the grandchild in any way possible, according to Mr. Currier.

He said the scammer calls the senior pretending to be the senior’s grandchild. They tell the victim that they are in trouble and need money. Commonly, the scammer will claim to have been in a car accident or have been arrested and are afraid to tell their parents.

The grandparent will be asked to wire the money, either by Western Union, MoneyGram or some other wiring service. The scammer then calls the grandparent back for the wiring reference number.

Unfortunately, Mr. Currier said, it isn’t until the senior finally speaks with the actual grandchild that they learn that they were scammed. By then, the scammer is long gone and nearly impossible to track down. The situation is even more difficult when the money is wired to an out-of-state location.

He said individuals should take the following precautions if they receive a phone call from their “grandchild” asking for emergency money:

■ Do not wire the money.

■ Do not provide the caller with any banking or personal information.

■ Do not keep the call a secret—this is an attempt by the scammer to keep the senior isolated and keep the scam from failing.

■ Do ask questions—if the caller says he is your favorite grandson, respond with “WHO?”

■Do call your grandchild, or other family member, immediately to find out what is really going on.

■Do call your local police department to report the scam.

“These callers are very good at what they do, and are very convincing.Don’t fall for it,”Mr. Currier said. “It never ceases to amaze me how creative these thieves can get.They play on people’s emotions and violate their trust in order to steal from them.”

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