AUBURN — It was a variation of a very old scam.

A man called a local elderly couple earlier this week and identified himself as their grandson. He was in legal trouble, the caller said, and needed money fast.

The grandparents sent the money, but before the cash got very far, police swooped in and retrieved it for them – all $6,000 of it.

Police said the victims in this case were called by a person crying and identifying himself as their grandson. The caller said he had been drinking and involved in an accident. To explain the change in his voice, police said, the impostor claimed to have suffered a fat lip.

“A person claiming to be an attorney for the impostor then got on the line and directed the victims to mail $6,000 in cash,” police explained in the news release. “The victims were given very specific directions on how, and from where, they were to ship the cash. They were told that they could not tell anyone about the situation.”

But police got wind of the scam and the package containing the couple’s cash was intercepted by law enforcement officials from a shipping distribution center. After collecting the cash, an Auburn police detective hand-delivered the cash to the victims, who are a retired couple in their 80s.

Police did not say how the scam came to their attention.

The Grandparents Scam has been around for many years, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. The scammers are typically very adept at sounding convincing and at approaching the call with a sense of urgency to keep the victims off-guard.

“This case highlights the growing list of crimes targeting the elderly,” police wrote. “Please take some time to educate your elderly relatives, friends and neighbors on the warning signs of these scams. Scammers will spoof real numbers to appear legitimate. Often, they will have already obtained details about their victims.

“A legitimate caller will not object at attempts to verify who they are,” police said. “A criminal will protest these attempts. Scammers apply immense pressure on their victims to act quickly and not tell anyone. Scammers often demand cash, wire transfers, and prepaid cards (debit, gift, etc.). Legitimate organizations do not do this. We encourage everyone to verify who they are speaking with when receiving unsolicited calls asking for any form of payment.”

The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging has established a Fraud Hotline 1-855-303-9470 or online at www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline. The website hosts many resources for the elderly.

The AARP also has an established Fraud Hotline at AARP ElderWatch 1-800-222-4444, option 2, and www.aarpelderwatch.org.


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