A new twist to grandparents’ scam: They’re coming to your home
ROCHESTER, N.Y. The New York State Police have an assignment for you.
If you have a grandparent or great-grandparent in your life, talk to them about a new, more dangerous twist to the grandparents’ scam. The old scam is a phone call to a grandparent saying they need to send money immediately to get their grandchild out of trouble.
The scammer tells them to buy a gift card and read the numbers to them on the phone. That’s how they get the money. Now, police say the scam sends bad actors directly to the grandparents’ home.
“The first thing, when you say ‘hello,’ they say ‘grandma,'” Mickey Culhane said.
At her home in Greece, Culhane says she’s been targeted by the grandparents’ scam three times in the last six months. She has 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, but she knows the callers are up to no good.
Brean: “You don’t fall for these scams.”
Mickey Culhane: “No.”
Brean: “But some people do.”
Culhane: “That’s the big problem. That’s the worry I have.”
This week, New York State Trooper Mark O’Donnell called us because the police want you to know about a change in the scammers’ tactic. Instead of relying on gift card numbers, sometimes they send couriers to the victims’ homes to get the money in person.
Brean: “These couriers, are they in on the scam?”
Trooper Mark O’Donnell, NYSP: “Yes they are. They’re in on the scam. They drive a vehicle and they usually park the vehicle a little ways away from the residence. They walk up and they have a face covering. They go there, they take the envelope and they leave.”
O’Donnell says there are 30 cases between Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. In July, the U.S. attorney in Rhode Island convicted three people for stealing $350,000 in a grandparent scam. The scammers told victims to collect money and give it to a “courier that would be sent to their home.”
The IRS says a grandparent in Buffalo handed $15,000 to a courier at the grandparent’s home.
Brean: “You actually asked one of the people who called you why don’t you get a real job.”
Culhane: “I did ask one. I said why can’t you get a job and work for it and don’t do this to the elderly people. He said to me, ‘I need money. That’s why I do it.'”
Here’s what the state police want you to do. First, remember that no one should ever call you for money. Second, if you get a call like this and it gives you second thoughts, hang up and call your children or grandchildren to confirm they’re okay. In 2021, the grandparents scam netted $6.5 million across the country.