Over-the-phone scammers are taking their schemes to the next level with a new tactic that is targeting elderly Whitestone residents.
Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct, alerted the public about the scam during the We Love Whitestone town hall meeting on Wednesday night. Reportedly, two neighborhood seniors were recent victims of the new scheme.
According to Conforti, scammers are calling their elderly victims claiming that their grandson or granddaughter has been arrested for a crime such as drugs possession. The crooks further claim that the children are too embarrassed to make a request for assistance directly.
The “opportunists” prey on the compassionate elders by convincing them to visit their local CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens and send “bail money” through a purchased iTunes gift card or Green Dot card for under $7,000.
The scammer calls the elder back about 30 minutes later, asking them for their card number to retrieve the bail money and the rest is history.
The civic association expressed their concerns and asked Conforti how the victim’s information is easily accessible to the public.
Conforti explained that personal information that is collected when shoppers apply for store reward card memberships are sold online, where scammers can buy the data at random for only $100. He said that it enables crooks to obtain the victim’s entire family history, including their Social Security numbers, addresses and even their older purchases made.
Conforti advised the civic association to spread the word about the rising scam and warn older residents in the Whitestone community. He mentioned that the elders must be mindful of foreign numbers since the scammers create fake numbers, which may appear from abroad, but the operations take place in Miami or New York.