HERKIMER — State police in Herkimer are warning local residents of a new telephone scam targeting the elderly.
Two cases have been reported recently of similar scams directed toward elderly women — one in the town of Herkimer and one in the town of German Flatts.
In the first case, police said, a male caller identified himself as the victim’s grandson and said he’d been arrested in Mexico and needed bail money.
The scam was not discovered until the victim had wired $3,000 to Mexico via Western Union.
In the second case, the caller identified himself as a police officer and told the woman her grandson had been arrested for drug possession and needed bail money to be released.
In this case, the caller knew the actual name of the grandson, and again, the scam was not discovered until after the victim wired $3,800 to an unknown subject in New York City, police said.
Local residents are advised not to send money to anyone they do not know, especially via Western Union or Moneygram, which are the preferred methods for scam artists to obtain money. Police said once the money is picked up, it is almost impossible to recover.
Potential victims also should be aware these criminals may be in possession of personal information, making them appear to be legitimate, police said, adding the perpetrators of these crimes are extremely difficult to prosecute due to the fact they are in most cases located outside of the United States.
Anyone receiving a call similar should contact the state police at 866-7275 immediately with the details prior to wiring any money.
A state police investigator can usually determine within a short period of time whether or not the caller is legitimate.