The Westchester County Clerk’s Office has been used by opportunistic fraudsters as part of a “Grandson Scam,” targeting older residents in the country.
An alert was issued on Thursday cautioning that scammers have been using the Westchester County Clerk’s Office as the “collection agency,” targeting a family in Minnesota.
According to Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni, the scam involves victims being called by a man pretending to be a grandson who has gotten into trouble with the law, claimed $ 9,000 was due in the Clerk's office for bail.
The person posing as the grandson requested bail payment in the forms of thousands of dollars in gift cards or to have the money wired from the grandparent. Once the gift cards are sent, or the money is wired, Idoni said it is nearly impossible to get it back.
In this instance, the potential victim did not fall for the scam because his grandson had never been to Westchester, but the incident was reported to Clerk Legal Division chief Joseph Castellano.
Idoni said sometimes the scammer might say they are calling from the Westchester County Clerk’s office.
“Please be aware that this is false. The Westchester County Clerk’s office would never call an individual asking for bail money or any type of payment for a relative.” Anyone who receives a call from the Clerk’s office regarding any business they are not familiar with has been encouraged to report it to the Clerk by calling (914) 995-3080.
“The Grandson Scam has been around for over a decade,” Idoni said. “This is the first we have heard of any county office being named in the call. Residents should always seriously question anyone asking for money for any reason over the phone.”
Tips from the county to avoid becoming a victim of a Grandson Scam include:
- Never give or wire money based on an unsolicited phone call;
- Verify that the caller is really your grandson, and that your grandson is actually in a foreign country, before sending money. Call another family member or the grandson himself;
- The caller usually starts the conversation by saying “it’s me, your grandson,” and waiting for the victim to say something like “oh, hi Jimmy.” So if the caller says he’s your grandson, ask the caller for his name. Don’t provide the name yourself. If the caller cannot provide the name, hang up immediately;
- Never send money to an unknown account or entity.
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