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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Targeting the Elderly:
Be Advised: New take on an old scam

Police are warning of a new version of an old scam. The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and City of Batavia Police are investigating, as both departments received separate complaints.

The Sheriff’s Office received a complaint Wednesday about a larceny. The victim told investigators that someone called them claiming to be a relative who had just gotten arrested and needed money for bail. The victim agreed to pay the bail money and arrangements were made. In the past, such calls were done by phone and by having the victim deposit money into an account, either online or by phone. In this case, investigators said, an actual person would be sent to the victim’s house to collect the money.

That’s what happened Wednesday. Investigators said a courier arrived at the victim’s house a short time after the initial phone call. An exchange of cash was made and the courier left. The courier was described as an Hispanic male, under 26, wearing a red and gray sweat suit and baseball cap. The scam didn’t end there.

A second call was made to the victim, with the caller saying that the bail amount had been increased and more money was needed. A second courier was sent to the house, where he collected more money. That person was described as a skinny white male with shoulder-length, dirty-blond hair and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black frayed jeans and driving a white, box-style van.

Investigators discovered two similar scams in the area. One was successful. The other was thwarted by family members who were aware of this type of scam, police said. In Batavia, city police are investigating a similar scam. The scam involves at least four people and is initiated with a phone call to the victim from a private number. When the victim answers the phone, a distraught female begins the conversation by yelling “Grandma” or “Grandpa” and begins talking about how she was in a car accident, arrested, and needs bail.

The female says that her phone broke during the accident and that’s why she’s calling on a private number. The female tells the victim she’s going to have her attorney call to arrange bail. A short time later a male scammer calls the victim saying he is the attorney and provides details about the case. The male says that he needs $10,000 or more to get the granddaughter out of jail and that it must be cash only. The scammer instructs the victim to leave the cash on the porch for a courier to pick up. The courier arrives and takes the money from the porch.

Once the scammers receive the money they continue calling the victim attempting to get more money for various legal reasons. The team of scammers is known to operate a white sedan, possibly a Kia, and a black sedan or SUV. The involved scammers in the Batavia incident include a female, a smaller build young-looking black male, a heavy-set white male, and a younger average-sized white male with dark hair. 

Anyone who was in the area of Ellicott and Williams streets on Tuesday about noon and on Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and who may have seen the suspects of their vehicles can call Detective Jason Ivison at (585) 345-6312 or (585) 345-6350. 

 The scammers are targeting the elderly and police are warning people to “remain aware and be suspect of phone calls you may receive from unknown sources.” Anyone who has information about the scams in Genesee County or has received similar calls can contact police at (585) 343-5000 or call 911. 
By SCOTT DESMIT - sdesmit@batavianews.com

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