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Warnings Issued To Westchester Residents About Separate Phone Scams

Phone Photo Credit: File photo

Hudson Valley residents are being warned about two scams that have been reported in the area.

In a recent case, a male caller claimed to be a utility company representative and demanded payment in the form of a Green Dot moneyPak (pre-paid money card), saying that if payment was not received, the utility service would be shut off.

In Rockland County, police recently responded to the home of an 81-year-old female victim from Nanuet who told the officer who responded that she received a phone call from an unknown person she initially believed to be her grandson. 

The caller said that he had been arrested along with two friends during a traffic stop. He and his friends were arrested because they had marijuana and a scale in the car, Clarkstown police said.

At that point, another man got on the phone and said he was a public defender named "Larry Wise," and instructed the woman to go to Best Buy and purchase two gift cards for $2,000 each as payment to bail her grandson out of jail.

Once complete she was to call his office at 403-389-8513 and provide him with the pin numbers to the gift cards. The victim purchased the gift cards with her AAA credit card and provided the suspect with the card numbers, police said.

The next day the "public defender" called again and said he needed $4,000 because the grandson was fined by the court. The victim withdrew $4,000 cash from her personal checking account, purchased two more gift cards from Best Buy and provided the suspect with the corresponding pin numbers.

A day later the victim was contacted once again by the man who said that he needed $4,000 to pay for lodging because her grandson was in witness protection. The victim withdrew $4,000 from her checking account, purchased two Best Buy gift cards and provided the suspect with the corresponding pin numbers, police said.

It was not until that evening when the victim realized her grandson was never arrested. The total financial loss to the victim was $12,000.

Police are asking for residents to share the incidents so others won't fall for the same scams. In addition, they are reminding all that law enforcement, utility companies and others, including the IRS, will not ask for gift cards as payments.

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