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Con artists now using young children to rip off elderly

Police chief says "old scam, new twist"

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Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:00 am

YORK — Just when it appears con artists who prey on the elderly can’t get any lower, they add a new twist to their scams . . . by using young children.

York Chief of Police Don Klug said his department was contacted Tuesday by an elderly York resident who received a fraudulent call from a scammer who also put a child on the phone to further enhance their story.

“We’ve seen this type of scam before, where the caller tries to impersonate the victim’s older grandchild,” Chief Klug explained. “They say that they’ve been in a car accident, or they are in jail, some kind of trouble . . . and they need money. They ask the elderly person to send money and unfortunately, we’ve seen several instances where that was the case. The victims truly thought their grandchilden were in trouble.

“Now, in this case, they took the old scam and gave it a whole new twist,” Chief Klug said. “In this situation, they actually put a very young child on the telephone who was supposed to be the victim’s great-grandchild. It’s my understanding that the child called the person ‘grandma,’ as well. Then an adult got on the phone and said he was an investigator with the St. Louis Police Department and the child’s mother, who would be the victim’s granddaughter, had been detained and they had her child in their custody. The would-be victim, however, didn’t fall for it and made sure that everyone in the family was OK. Then we were contacted.”

Klug said the origin of the telephone call was traced to Quebec, Canada.

“People just really need to be cautious,” Klug said. “If a situation like this was actually true, the law enforcement agency would contact our department and we would assist in contacting the person’s family. And law enforcement would never ask for money. If this happens to you, do not give out any personal information, do not send money. Do your homework and call us. We can help — especially when they try to say they are law enforcement, we can quickly verify if that’s the case.

“Unfortunately, there are people out there who are looking to get something for nothing,” Klug said. “Sometimes we open ourselves up to be victims. Everyone just needs to be cautious. Fortunately, in this situation, the victim suspected it was fraudulent and didn’t give them what they wanted. But sometimes, that’s not the case.

“If anyone gets this type of call, again — be careful,” Klug said. “Unfortunately, it’s something we have to watch out for.”

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