The "Grandparent scam" strikes again: A Queens woman handed over $7,500 to a man who she thought was helping a loved one who was in a car accident and arrested... but it turns out it was all a giant ruse.
According to the NYPD, the con game occurred around 9 a.m. on August 14, when a 90-year-old received a call on her house phone from a male individual who "stated that he was her loved one, and that he was involved in a car accident and was subsequently arrested." He also claimed that "he needed money in order to be bailed out of jail." He then gave the phone to a second man, who "told the victim that he needed $7,500 in cash in order to bail her loved one out of jail," the police say.
A man, who was caught on surveillance footage (photos above), arrived at the woman's apartment on 36th Avenue and took the cash from the victim at 2:30 p.m. that same day. The NYPD adds, "It was later determined that the victim's loved one was not involved in a motor vehicle accident, nor did he have any contact with law enforcement, and further never contacted the victim."
The suspect, who is wanted for grand larceny, is described as being around 5'10".
The NYPD did not have details on whether the caller posed as the victim's grandchild—this con is known as the "grandparent scam," where criminals target the elderly and pose as their grandchildren and claim they need money immediately for a variety of reasons (car broke down, stranded in foreign country, etc). A few years ago, C. Steven Baker, director of the Midwest division of the Federal Trade Commission told us that the scam started in Montreal, with crooks reading obituaries to gather details about deceased individuals and their survivors—the widows/widowers, plus the names of the grandchildren. Now criminals are able to get that information off social media.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.