BATH BEACH – Scammers targetting seniors with “imposter scams” on the rise, police said.
Most bad actors solicit through mail and telephone. Someone usually calls saying a family member has been hurt or jailed and needs the victim to purchase a re-loadable VISA, iTunes or Google Play card. After the purchase is made, the victim is instructed to read the numbers on the card.
“It’s been an issue for years but it seems to be getting worse and at this point, it’s becoming a concern,” said Police Officer Eduard Nogol of the 62nd Pct. “Everyone is susceptive but the older population seems to be falling victim.”
Scammers used gift cards as a way to dupe victims out of money in 28% of reported phone scams from January through Septemeber 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). That number is up from 7% in 2015. The agency calculated $53 million in losses for that same period in 2018.
Nogol warns seniors are also falling prey to a new version of the “imposter scam” where victims send cash at the demand of scammers. Scammers call and ask seniors to send cash for a family member that’s hospitalized or stuck overseas.
Scammers also ask seniors to send money owed for subscription services, police said.
The new trend is responsible for $41 million, up from $26 million the previous year. The FTC as stats that show a median loss of $9,000 from victims 70 and older.
Be wary of mail requests as well. Some scammers are using the U.S. Postal Service rather than telephone calls to solicit money.
When asked how quickly victims contact officials following scam, Nogol said it varies.
“It depends on when they realize,” Nogol said, adding that it could take up to a month sometimes after the victim has received a bank statement.
Tips for staying scam-free:
- Don’t give your information over the phone. Nogol warned no agency, including NYPD, will call asking for personal information.
- If someone calls saying a family member is in danger, jailed or hospitalized, you should immediately hang up and contact the said family member or another relative to confirm their whereabouts.
- Should you encounter one of the solicitors please contact your local precinct. For residents living in Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, officers at the 62 Pct. are available to help. Call 718-236-2611.
- Contact the FTC Complaint Assitance website, but not until the government reopens.