State police warn on increase in high volume scams

New York State Police Troop A, which includes Allegany County and other parts of Western New York, is warning the public about an increase in high volume scams since the beginning of the year. In 2021, the law enforcement agency recorded more than $1 million statewide in such activities.

Scams being investigated in the region include a few different scenarios, according to the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI):
— The caller claims to be a family member and has an illness or was arrested. This caller will put urgency on helping them and not to contact other family.
— The caller claims to be a law enforcement official with a family member under arrest, demanding bail or funds for them.|
— The caller claims to be law enforcement claiming that your Social Security number or bank accounts have been “compromised”.  The caller will ask important information to “verify” the identity of the person they are calling, thereby obtaining the victim’s information, including Social Security and bank account numbers.
— Emails or texts with an URGENT message stating that your Social Security number, bank account, cable provider, Apple account, Amazon account, Netflix account has been “compromised and needs immediate attention.

State police note that:
— Police agencies do not contact family for bail money.
— Police agencies do not ask for money to fix Social Security numbers or bank accounts.
— Police agencies do not send text messages asking for account information as part of an investigation.

The caller, in most scenarios according to the BCI, will advise the victim to get a specific amount of money in multiple ways including:
— Purchasing gift cards from popular stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Target and other big retail stores and then reading over the phone to the caller or sending the bar code on the back of the gift card to the caller. These gift card increments could be anywhere from $50 to $500.
— Sending cash by mail in a box packaged a certain way the caller will explain, usually wrapped in tinfoil or heavily taped package.
— Purchasing Bitcoin or Crypto Currency with a QR code provided by the caller.

If one receives a call he or she believes to be a scam, state police urge people to:
RESIST the urge to act immediately- no matter how dramatic the story is.
VERIFY the caller’s identity- Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to see if the information is true.
DO NOT send cash, gift cards or money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!.
DO NOT give your personal banking account information by email or over the phone or log into bank accounts as directed by the caller (called Screen Mirroring).

If you have parents or elderly people in your family, state police also urge that time be taken to explain these scams to them.

BCI investigators note that are “continuing to work these cases, but most times the suspects are out of the country.”

Due to the complexity of these cases, they say that victims will have a difficult time getting back the money they sent.