15 Sep 2014
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Police Issue Phone Scam Warning

Callers claim to be holding relative at gunpoint unless money is sent.

Police Issue Phone Scam Warning

Suffolk County police are warning county residents of a rash of attempted phone scams that have been circulating in the community. According to police, more than 70 such attempted scams have been reported.

The police department issued the following letter to residents Thursday afternoon:

After receiving more than a dozen reports during the past 48 hours, the Suffolk County Police Department is again warning residents of telephone scams during which potential victims are asked to wire money immediately for a family member in trouble.  A potential victim will receive a telephone call from someone claiming that they know a family member who is somehow in trouble and needs money wired immediately.

The caller attempts to pressure the victim to send money without verifying the family member’s whereabouts.  In one scenario, the caller claims that they have just been in a motor vehicle crash with a relative of the victim who refuses to pay for the damage. The caller claims to be holding the relative at gunpoint until the victim pays several thousand dollars.

Other scenarios may include the caller claiming a family member of the victim has been arrested and needs money for bail, or a family member owes someone money. The victim is asked to withdraw money from an ATM and the caller will guide them to an institution where they can wire money. 

During the past five months, Suffolk County Police have received approximately 70 reports of similar scams and believe that dozens more attempted scams have gone unreported. Investigations have determined that the victims are randomly selected and the caller is usually able to convince the target that the scenario is real.

The Suffolk County Police Department advises residents to independently verify the threatened relative’s whereabouts and not to give out any personal information during the call.  If someone receives a call of this nature, they are advised to call the Suffolk County Police Department for further investigation.

Southampton Town police have received reports of similar scams. In January, a Southampton woman was reportedly to a person who called impersonating her grandson. According to police, the impersonator told the victim that he was stuck at the airport and his friend was being detained on drug charges. He said he needed the money to bail his friend out, and the victim wired the money.

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