Police and investigators within the U.S. Postal Service teamed up to thwart a $9,500 phone scam that targeted an elderly New York man this week, according to authorities.
The 79-year-old victim from St. James, N.Y., received a call on April 8, during which the scammer claimed his grandson had been arrested in connection with a motor vehicle crash, police said.
The caller told him to send cash bail to an address in St. Louis, Mo.
After mailing a parcel packed with cash, the victim spoke with his grandson and realized the call was a scam and called police, according to investigators.
Local detectives sought help from the New York office of the United States Postal Inspection Service, and officials reached out to their counterparts in St. Louis in time to intercept the package on April 14, before it was delivered to the scammer.
“I would like to commend the efforts of the Financial Crimes Unit detectives who kept an innocent victim’s money from making its way into the hands of a scammer—a result that is not always easy,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
Phone scams, particularly those targeting the elderly or other vulnerable targets, have been a persistent problem. The Justice Department secured a pair first of their kind of injunctions in two federal cases involving services that hosted hundreds of millions of scam calls in late March.
Commissioner Hart is urging residents to be wary of phone scams involving demands for cash or gift card payments as well as new ones related to the COVID-19 crisis.
Common scams can include imposters pretending to represent the Internal Revenue Service, utility companies or Social Security.
The Postal Inspection Service has a number of tips available on its website to help people avoid recurring scams.