New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is warning New Yorkers about a new phone scam in the Syracuse area. Schneiderman says New Yorkers have been receiving calls from scammers who threaten to harm their family members if they don’t pay a ransom.
New Yorkers who receive these scam phone calls should report them to New York State Police at 1-800-GIVETIP.
In recent days, the Attorney General’s Office has received several reports in the Syracuse-area that people have received calls from someone falsely claiming the call recipient’s relative has been in an accident that caused injury, and the scammer claims they’ve taken the relative from the scene of the accident to a nearby house. The scammer then demands money, claiming the injured relative doesn’t have insurance to pay the medical bills.
Schneiderman says the scammer will then try to scare the phone call recipient into cooperating by claiming to be a drug dealer or gang member. In at least one instance, a woman could be heard crying in the background of the call.
In some instances the scammer will reference the phone call recipient’s name and sometimes their address.
Schneiderman says the calls appear to be coming from a Syracuse number, and the scammer references Syracuse streets for the site of the alleged accident. The scammer has also tried to arrange for a payment on Fayette Street in Syracuse.
When phone call recipients did not cooperate, Schneiderman says the scammer has threatened to shoot the person’s relatives.
None of the people who received these calls paid any money to the caller, and none of their relatives were actually involved in an accident or harmed.
Schneiderman says these kind of scams are designed to trick consumers into paying money to free someone they love from potential harm. To avoid falling victim to this type of scam, Schneiderman offers the following tips:
- If the caller is a stranger, be alert. Be aware that this type of extortion scam depends on fear. The scammer knows they need to work quickly to obtain your money because you may try to take steps, even while on the phone with the scammer, to figure out if your relative is in actual danger. Scammers will try to keep you on the line.
- Never give out personal information to a stranger on the phone.
- Never wire money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or any other wire service to a stranger.
- Never purchase gift or money cards for the purpose of providing the gift card numbers to someone else.
- Immediately contact the police if you get a call like the one described here.