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State Senator

Bob Duff

Majority Leader

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Contact: Adam Joseph

April 30, 2012

Duff, Mayor Moccia Join Norwalk Police and BBB in Warning of Scam Targeting Grandparents

Recent media reports have highlighted local residents being targeted by con-artists pretending to be their grandchild and asking for money

NORWALK—In light of recent media reports of area seniors falling victim to money-wiring scams, state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) gathered local authorities to inform residents about protecting themselves and their loved ones from fraud.

Sen. Duff and Mayor Moccia joined Norwalk Police Det. William Maloney and Connecticut Better Business Bureau Communications Director Howard Schwartz at the Norwalk Senior Center Monday morning to discuss various scams targeting seniors.

“These con-artists are deliberately trying to take advantage of a grandmother’s love and concern for her grandchild and hoping to make a quick buck at her expense,” Sen. Duff said. “Too often these loving grandparents become victims when they wire transfer thousands of dollars overseas and into the hands of a criminal. We must put an end to these kinds of scams and the best way to do that is to educate people about protecting themselves and their loved ones from fraud.”

Like the scams reported in the media, the stories are often similar—someone calls up pretending to be a grandchild and asking for money to get out of jail or some kind of bind. The con-artist urges the victim to wire money overseas to get their grandson or daughter out of a jam. If the money gets transferred, it is usually lost for good and there is little local police can do to retrieve it. Det. Maloney said Norwalk has seen several of these types of scams in the past.

“For this type of fraud, the best advice I can give is for the potential victims to reach out to another family member and validate the story before sending any money,” Det. Maloney said. “First of all, it would be proper to let them know that a family member is in need of help, and secondly, they may find out that the purported person is actually at home and fine. The next piece of advice that I would give is to never wire money that way. There are several other ways for a person to transfer money that were not available years ago—other ways that are much less subject to fraud. Once you send the money that way, it’s gone!”

“Arming senior citizens with effective tools to guard them from the growing list of scam artists is an important and valuable opportunity. Thanks to Senator Duff, the Norwalk Police and the Better Business Bureau for presenting this vital program and helping our efforts to protect Norwalk’s senior population,” said Mayor Richard Moccia.

“These are sophisticated schemes that continue to evolve,” Mr. Schwartz said. “Unfortunately, we sometimes inadvertently help the criminals succeed by what we post on social media platforms. Though we all want to share information, the details we provide online can help the con artists put together a detailed profile of the victims’ relatives, such as where they go to school and the names of their friends.”

According to the BBB, some common scams include:

  1. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams—The victim receives a letter in the mail stating that he or she has won a lottery or sweepstakes. The letter instructs the victim to deposit an enclosed check and then wire a portion back to the company to cover taxes or administration fees. The check turns out to be fake, and the victim loses whatever they wired back to the scammers—often thousands of dollars.
  2. Medicare Scams—Commonly, a scammer will claim to be with Medicare and ask for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers. The victim might be given any number of excuses to provide this information, such as: an error needs to be fixed, that he or she is part of a survey or eligible to receive free products or to sign them up for a new prescription drug plan.
  3. Bereavement Scams—Scammers often try to take advantage of people who have recently lost a loved one, such as a spouse. In one recent example, a mother and daughter team in Ohio found targets by scouring the obituaries. They would then call the widow or widower and claim that their spouse had outstanding debts that needed to be paid immediately. Victims would then provide a blank check or credit card.
  4. Deceptive Sales: Some scammers come to the front door and may be invited inside. They include furnace repairmen, contractors, door-to-door salespeople, air duct cleaners and other service providers. Some professionals will lie about the extent of the problem or claim safety issues and then inflate prices for unsuspecting customers.
  5. Investment and Work-at-Home Opportunities—The pitch might come in the form of an investment opportunity that promises big returns, or as a way to make money at home for an upfront cost. Regardless of the specifics, the victim is offered what sounds like a great opportunity but the extra income never materializes.

Press Contacts

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Adam Joseph

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Room 3300
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

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