The elderly population is being pried upon in central New York.

The New York State Police area warning of a recent increase of phone scams to elderly citizens. The scam includes a few different scenarios:

  • The caller claims to be a family member and either has an illness or was arrested. The caller will put urgency on helping and ask them not to contact any other family members.
  • The caller claims to be a law enforcement official with a family member under arrest and demands bail or funds for them.

Police agencies do not contact family for bail money.

The caller in both scenarios will advise the victim to get a specific amount of money and buy gift cards from popular stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Target and other big retail stores. The victim is then told to call a different number and read off the gift card identification number.

If you receive a call you believe to be a scam the New York State Police says there are several things you should do:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately - no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the caller’s identity - Ask questions that a stanger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to see if the information is true.
  • Don’t send cash, gift cards or money transfers - once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone.
  • If you have parents or elderly people in your family, take the time to explain this scam to them.