Scary new phone scam to be aware of

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ISSUES CONSUMER ALERT WARNING NEW YORKERS OF EXTORTION TELEPHONE SCAM

AG Schneiderman Urges New Yorkers to Report Potential Threats to State Police, Offers Tips to Protect Consumers

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued a consumer alert, notifying New Yorkers of a new scam in which New Yorkers receive calls from potential fraudsters who threaten to harm the New Yorkers’ family members if they do not pay a ransom. New Yorkers should immediately contact the New York State Police at 1-800-GIVETIP.

The Attorney General’s office has received several reports in recent days of consumers receiving a call from someone falsely claiming that the consumer’s relative has been in an accident that resulted in injury to the scammer’s nephew. The scammer claims to have taken the consumer’s relative—often a daughter, wife, niece, or mother—from the scene of the accident to a nearby house. The scammer then demands money from the consumer, claiming that the injured nephew does not have any insurance to pay related bills.

The scammer tries to scare the consumer into cooperating by claiming to be a drug dealer and/or a gang member. In at least one instance, a woman was heard crying in the background of the call. The scammer makes the call seem even more personal by referencing the parties’ names and, in some instances, their addresses. In addition, the call appears to come from a Syracuse number and the scammer references specific Syracuse streets for the site of the accident.

In at least one call, the scammer tried to arrange for the consumer to make a payment on Fayette Street in Syracuse. When the consumers hesitated to cooperate, the scammer threatened to shoot their relatives. Fortunately, none of the consumers who reported receiving this call paid the scammers any money and no relatives were actually involved in an accident, kidnapped, or harmed.

“These scammers are preying on New Yorkers’ worst fears in a shameful attempt to turn a quick buck,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I’m asking all New Yorkers to be on high alert and to contact the police immediately if they receive such a call.”

Tips To Avoid Falling Victim

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.
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