A crime commonly referred to as a the “grandparent scam” has spread throughout Erie County, primarily targeting elderly individuals.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn on Thursday issued a warning to county residents to keep an eye out for this scam, in which scammers use emotional manipulation and hidden identities to gain money from others.
Last week, a Lancaster man in his 50s received a call from someone pretending to be his child. The person claimed to have been arrested due to a car accident resulting in injury, and asked for bail money.
A second person soon called, claiming to be a bail bondsman. The supposed bondsman told the man a courier would be sent to pick up the money. The “courier” collected $9,200 in person.
Other Erie County residents reported scammers claiming to be an IRS representative, a Social Security official, a student loan provider, a utility provider, a bank, an online retailer and a computer company, among others.
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The district attorney’s office provided tips to protect against these scams, including saying residents should not:
• Post any personal information on social media.
• Respond to suspicious calls, texts, letters or emails.
• Follow instructions from unknown people.
• Send money via pre-paid gift cards, cryptocurrency, bank wire transfers, money orders or couriers, as legitimate companies would not request those forms of payment.
Anyone with information on the Lancaster incident or who has been a victim of a similar crime is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or the Erie County District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations and Prosecutions (SIP) Unit at 716-858-2424.
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