Officials Call on FBI to Investigate “Grandparent Scam”

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014  |  Updated 7:49 AM EDT
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Officials Call on FBI to Investigate “Grandparent Scam”

Phone scams targetting elderly victims continue to be one of the most popular scams out there. Thousands of senior citizens are victimized every year, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Scammers are targeting senior citizens, families and immigrant communities in Connecticut and state officials want to get the word out so more local residents do not become victims.

This scam, known as the “grandparent scam,” starts with a phone call from someone who tells the victim that a family member has been involved in an accident and is being held hostage until the victim sends money.

Earlier this month, police in Willimantic and Guilford issued warnings after several r residents reported being targeted in the scam.

This afternoon, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and Attorney General George Jepsen will hold a news conference today to raise awareness about the scam, which can lead to significant financial loss for victims.

Murphy and Blumenthal said they will be calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to act and stop this scam.

Earlier this year, Murphy wrote to FBI Director James Comey to ask the FBI to immediately alert the public about this scam.

“Several Connecticut residents have fallen victim to this fraud, even though local police have been active in trying to protect the community from this type of crime.  In one instance, local police have alerted providers of money wiring services, like Western Union, to be on the lookout for this type of suspicious situation.  As reports of this telephone scam continue to come in from all over the state of Connecticut, I am requesting that your agency devote appropriate resources to helping Connecticut’s local law enforcement agencies alert their communities about this criminal activity and locate the perpetrators,” Murphy wrote in the letter to Comey.

During the news conference, Jepsen will outline a list of steps people can take if scammers contact them. He will also describe warning signs constituents should be on the look-out for if they receive a suspicious call.

Police warn residents to refrain from disclosing personal information and call police right away.

“Under no circumstances should you send money anywhere or provide any personal information to the caller,” Willimantic Police Corporal Matthew Solak said in a statement earlier this month.

Willimantic police said most of the calls have come from a number with a 717 area code and at least one was traced back to Puerto Rico.

The caller is described as being an adult man with a Spanish accent, although one victim told police it sounded like the phone had been passed around among a group of teenagers.

The news conference will begin at 12:30 p.m. in Room 1A of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
 

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