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Norwalk Police Warn Seniors To Be Wary Of Telephone, Utility Worker Scams

Sgt. Sofia Gulino of the Norwalk Police Department talks to seniors on Wednesday.
Sgt. Sofia Gulino of the Norwalk Police Department talks to seniors on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

NORWALK, Conn. — Hoping to prevent Norwalk seniors from being victimized by con artists, Norwalk Police Sgt. Sofia Gulino offered tips on how to avoid common scams to an audience at the Norwalk Senior Center on Wednesday.

Gulino said one of the most common scams targeting senior citizens is known as the grandparent scam. A con artist will call a senior posing as their grandchild, who purportedly needs money to get out of trouble.

“When you get that phone call, what do you do?” Gulino asked the audience.

“Hang up,” the audience responded in unison.

In that situation, Gulino said seniors should call the grandchild or person asking for money to make sure they are safe — and then call police.

Gulino also advised seniors to be wary of organizations asking for donations by phone, especially after disasters. Seniors should research the organization or ask someone to do the research for them before donating, she said.

She also warned seniors about a scam in which a con artist will pose as an IRS agent and ask the senior to pay them money to get out of trouble. Some will even show up at a senior’s doorstep with fake badges purchased on eBay or fake ID cards made at home.

Gulino said the IRS will never call seniors. They will send an official certified letter for correspondence, she said.

If seniors are concerned by a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, they should call the agency back using a number from a reputable source, Gulino said.

She also advised seniors to beware of calls informing them they have won an overseas lottery. Often times, scammers posing as lottery officials will ask seniors to send money overseas to cover processing fees, Gulino said.

Gulino advised the seniors not to send any money because such calls are not legitimate.

“You will never win the international lotto,” Gulino said. 

Other scammers target seniors in person. In distraction burglaries, someone posing as a utility worker will bring a homeowner into the basement to supposedly do a repair.

But during the so-called “repair”, another individual will ransack another room, looking for valuables.

“They’re not casing the joint,” Gulino said. “They’re inside your house upstairs taking your stuff.”

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