Multiple scams targeting seniors investigated in Yates County

YATES COUNTY, N.Y. — The Yates County Sheriff’s Office is investigating multiple cases of scams targeting senior citizens, in which several thousand dollars have been scammed.

In some cases, people are receiving computer pop-up messages that may accuse the user of involvement in a crime, pornography, embezzlement or the like, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Some get alerts that their computer is being locked due to a virus, with a phone number to call to get help. The Sheriff’s Office says these are often spam and fake alerts that reference a law enforcement matter and say that a dollar amount will satisfy the matter; they’ll give an amount to pay and how to do it: wired transfers, apps like Venmo or CashApp, or cash or checks. Sometimes they’ll send people to their banks to withdraw cash.

“We are also seeing complaints of phone calls and emails being received of similar nature. These calls typically involve an accusation of wrongdoing and a means of sending money to clear up the cases, or to bail out a relative from a correctional facility,” Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike said. “These are frauds, and there is no way to prevent a swindle artist from contacting an older person as a potential victim, so understanding these crimes and preventing them is our best defense.”

If you get this kind of message — whether by phone, email or computer alert — do not do what the scammer suggests. Contact a trusted family member or local law enforcement to start an investigation. Do not give out any financial information. It’s hard to get money back since many of these scammers are in foreign countries, the Sheriff’s Office says. They note that neither Microsoft nor any other legitimate business or agency will operate like this — they won’t contact you via phone or pop-up windows.

More information is available through the Office of the Aging and such online resources as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.