Frankfort Police warning residents about phone scam


FRANKFORT, N.Y. (WKTV) - Village of Frankfort Police Chief Ronald Petrie says that an elderly woman was almost scammed out of $2,000, after a pretty emotional phone conversation on Thursday.

Chief Petrie says a young man called the woman saying he was her grandson and that he had gotten into trouble at the border crossing into Canada because the authorities found some drugs on him. The woman says she asked what she could do to help, and that's when another older gentleman came on the phone and said she would need to send $2,000 for him to get out of jail in Canada.

Petrie says the 79 year old then went to the Walmart in Herkimer to make the wire transfer, but a clerk there actually asked her if she had considered the possibility this was some type of scam.

"One of the first things the first male on the phone said was 'this is embarrassing, please don't call my parents,' so it was a grandmother type figure that he was reaching out to," Chief Petrie said. "So to help out the younger relative, she didn't call the parents at first. After the cashier did mention it might be a scam, she did call the parents and asked where was your son, and they were able to contact him, and he wasn't being detained."

Chief Petrie says the woman was spared the money, but family members wanted her to report it to police so that other people could be warned.

Petrie says she did not want to be interviewed for our story, and felt kind of embarrassed to be 'taken.'

"They know the older generation has memory loss, has the embarrassment factor, they're less likely to say know, they just assume helping," Chief Petrie said. "And it's kind of an easy target for them."

The chief says the young man never told her his name, just called her grandma.

"I had asked her, do you remember them providing you a name. She said no, when the older male got on the phone, he asked her, who was this that you were just speaking to, now she realized, she provided them his name."

As far as some tips for seniors, Petrie says, "When you get a phone call like this, ask questions that might seem simple at the time, ask who your speaking to, get an address to where he is being detained, the name of a jail, if they're saying they're in jail. Exactly what the money is for, if there are criminal charges, what are criminal charges, the criminal might not be prepared to answer those questions, they might not come up with a legitimate answer."

Petrie adds, "Don't give out any personal information, don't give out your bank account information ant credit card numbers, definitely never release your social security number over the phone, if they're calling, asking for that type of information, tell then that you prefer something in writing, mail me something. This type of scam, they kind of tug at the heartstrings, it's a relative in trouble, where the emotional factor kicks in before the logical factor kicks in, and they're prepared to help out."

After our story aired at Noon on Friday, NEWSChannel 2 received a phone call from a woman who says her mother almost fell victim to a very similar scam a month ago.

She says the man posed as the grandson, and needed money because he had gotten into a car accident in Mexico, so she was asked to send $1,800 to Mexico City using the wire transfer system at the Walmart in the City of Oneida.

That woman called her daughter and verified that her grandson was not in Mexico.

If you do receive a similar call, you should call your local police department.

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