CHENANGO COUNTY – In an interview on Monday, a New York State Police representative discussed how phone scammers have stolen over $50,000 from Chenango County residents, why they’re not getting caught, and how individuals can avoid phone scams in the future.
According to New York State Police Troop C Public Information Officer Aga Dembinska, from 2018 to 2019, in 26 cases in Chenango, Otsego, and Delaware Counties, scammers stole approximately $422,000 from individuals over the phone.
Dembinska said if someone calls claiming to be a friend or family member desperate for money, resist the urge to act immediately and ask questions only that person would know.
“Hang up and contact your loved one immediately,” she said. “Never send cash to anyone you don’t know. The scammers are very convincing. They play on your emotions, threaten to call the police and sometimes swear you to secrecy.”
She added that in many of these cases, the person on the other end of the phone will demand the victim obtain gift cards such as Amazon, Google Play or iTunes.
“The scammer will ask to send the gift cards, photograph them or email the code that is used to redeem them,” said Dembinska. “Some of the most recent scammers will tell the victim to go to Walmart to complete a Walmart money transfer, and send cash next day air using UPS or FedEx or they will demand money orders or cashier’s checks sent.”
Dembinska said a woman in Sherburne lost $39,265 in a fake phone call where the criminal pretended to be an IRS agent. She said eventually the woman’s daughter changed her mother’s phone number, but the damage had already been done.
She added that in another case, a man from North Norwich lost over $14,000 after receiving a call from a person pretending to be his grandson who needed bail money.