Attorney General warns of extortion phone scam targeting New Yorkers

Attorney General warns of extortion phone scam targeting New Yorkers

March 09, 2018 01:26 PM

New Yorkers have been receiving phone calls from scammers who threaten to shoot their relatives if they do not pay a ransom, the Attorney General’s office announced Friday.

The scam has reached several residents in the Syracuse area, who have reportedly received phone calls from a person who tells them their relative -- often a daughter, wife, niece, or mother -- have been taken to a nearby house after suffering injuries in an accident with the scammer's nephew.

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The scammer then threatens to harm their wounded family members if they don’t pay ransom, saying that the nephew doesn’t have insurance to pay medical bills. The scammer tries to scare the person into cooperating by claiming to be a drug dealer or a gang member. 

The scammer makes the call seem even more personal by referencing the parties’ names and, in some instances, their addresses. In at least one instance, a woman was heard crying in the background of the call.

The Attorney General's office says the calls come from a Syracuse phone number and the scammer references specific Syracuse streets for the site of the accident. 

No one has yet paid the callers and no relatives were involved in accidents, kidnapped, or harmed.

“These scammers are preying on New Yorkers’ worst fears in a shameful attempt to turn a quick buck,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement. “I’m asking all New Yorkers to be on high alert and to contact the police immediately if they receive such a call.”

If you receive a call like this, your are askd to call State Police immediately at 1-800-GIVETIP rather than 911. 


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