Grandparent Scam Victimizes Two Lower Bucks Residents
Bucks County public safety authorities warned residents earlier this month about a scam attempting to scare locals with the threat of pending arrest if they didn’t pay the fraudster.
A variation of that scheme was reported in Morrisville Borough and Lower Makfield Township over the last two weeks, costing victims thousands in separate incidents.
Law enforcement officials refer to it as the “grandson” or “grandparents” scheme.
According to Lower Makefield authorities. the most recent extortion reportedly occurred this past Wednesday to a 1200 block University Drive resident.
According to Police, the victim reported receiving a call from who they believed to be their grandson who reportedly was arrested and needed money.
The victim withdrew $10,000.00 from their account and handed a box with the cash to an unknown male in a black SUV who arrived at their home, Lower Makefield authorities said in a release.
The victim was subsequently contacted by a suspect claiming to be an attorney and requested an additional $30,000.00, but the funds were not provided in the second fraud attempt, police said.
Police say the investigation is ongoing
On July 29, Morrisville Borough Police responded to a report on the 200 block of Harrison Street that a grandmother handed over $17,000.00 to shakedown artists in two separate incidents on the same day.
The victim, police say, was instructed to make a $7,000.00 withdrawal, put the cash in an envelope and place it outside for a fraudster to pick up.
The suspect (s) called again wanting more, and asked for $10,000.00, with the same instructions as the first time, according to police.
Both times the envelopes were picked up by unknown males, police said.
There was a variation of the above scams, but this time the scammer was operating out of Morrisville Borough, police said.
A resident who resides in Colorado was scammed into sending $30,000.00 via UPS to an address in Morrisville, said Police.
The package containing the money was retrieved by Police at the UPS in Philadelphia, the Police said. n
The victim was also scammed into purchasing $8,000.00 in gift cards and gave the scammer the card numbers which were cashed, according to a release.
Since the money was addressed to a Morrisville Borough address. Lower Bucks Source asked Chief of Police George McClay if the police had any suspects.
No. We didn’t have the manpower to host a long term investigation like that, he said.
The targeting of older adults/grandparents is nothing new. What reportedly makes scams like the above easy to perpetuate on unsuspecting victims, is “…exploiting grandparents’ love and concern for their grandchildren, giving rise to a breed of impostor fraud specifically targeting older Americans,” says the American Association of Retired People (AARP).
The impostor offers just enough detail about where and how the emergency happened to make it seem plausible and perhaps turns the phone over to another scammer who pretends to be a doctor, police officer or lawyer and backs up the story. The “grandchild” implores the target to wire money immediately, adding an anxious plea: ‘Don’t tell Mom and Dad!,’ AARP, officials say.
AARP suggests adult children, or grandchildren, discuss with their older family members what to do to avoid confidence schemes that have led to millions of dollars disappearing into thin air.
“If you receive a suspicious phone call, hang up and verify the information provided by the caller before proceeding. For instance, if the caller claims to be from your town’s police station, look up the police station’s number and call it,” is another such suggestion.
One “Don’t” the organization stresses is:
- Don’t send cash, wire money, or provide numbers from gift or cash-reload cards to a person claiming to be a grandchild. Scammers prefer those payment methods because they’re difficult to trace.
From 2015 through the first quarter of 2020, more than 91,000 reports of crooks posing as a relative or friend of the victim were reported to the Federal Trade Commission.
The number of people victimized in Bucks County by scam artists is unknown.
Fraudsters have upped there game so to speak and are now using voice cloning technology a report out of neighboring Ohio said in April
‘The only thing you’re going to hear is something as fast as, ‘Dad, I need help.’ It’s not going to be a full conversation,” Supervisor Special Agent Andres Hernandez with the FBI explained to CrimeTracker 10’ WBSN. ‘All you need is a few seconds for somebody to say, ‘Dad I’m in trouble, I need help, I’ve been kidnapped.’ Super simple and then the criminal gets on the phone and does what he does.’
Your digital footprint and what you post on social media can make you an easy target.
Scammers only need a sample of your voice — from an Instagram story, a Facebook or YouTube video in order to create a convincing audio clip.
The Bucks County District Attorney’s office wants to remind the public that the Sheriff’s Office and the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas would never ask for payment in this fashion or email a warrant” a Bucks County spokesperson said recently.
- People should never send money or provide access to your bank or credit card in response to threatening emails (or phone calls) you may receive claiming that you owe a debt.
- Whenever getting this type of notice, people should do an online search of the agency themselves and contact the correct agency to verify that they do not owe any money.
- People should never give any personal information, such as social security number, credit card, or bank account information to any individual, website, or company without first verifying their identity.
If you have received a similar email, do not respond, and contact your local police department to report the incident, the Bucks County District Attorney’s office says.
And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, because these scams play on the emotions and attachments of their victims.
Call your local police if you’ve been a scam victim.