Scammers are still thriving in New York, with some trying to rob your grandparents blind.
To mark National Consumer Protection Week, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed the top ten consumer fraud complaints made to his office in 2017 and warned Thursday that popular phone frauds remain ongoing — including the aptly named “Grandparent Scam.”
Hucksters behind the cold-hearted con typically pose as a victim’s grandchild and claim an urgent need for money — to make bail, pay a fine or cover medical expenses, the AG’s office said. The caller often begs the grandparent not to tell other relatives and asks for payment via gift card codes.
Queens grandmother Kathleen Boles, 85, was a victim back in 2016 and said Thursday she’s still paying off the $4,000 in Target gift card codes she gave someone posing as her grandson Brendan.
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“It sounded exactly like my grandson,” she told the Daily News. “His parents were away for the weekend. We should have called them, but it sounded so much like him.”
The scammer claimed Brendan got arrested after an injury car crash in Texas. Boles said her husband Christopher Boles, 90, ended up paying the con artist another $20,000.
“They were smart. It was terrible, really,” she said. “I’m still paying $200 a month. Hopefully I’ll have it paid off in September.”
Another phone fraud still plaguing the state involves sophisticated scammers posing as IRS officials, Schneiderman’s office said. Officials cautioned some of these criminals use spoofing technology to appear as “Internal Revenue Service” on victims’ caller ID.
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The IRS will never demand immediate payment or payment information over the phone, the AG’s office warned.
Overall, internet-related complaints topped the list of consumer fraud gripes last year, with 5,153 grievances, the AG’s office said. These included complaints about connection speeds, child safety, privacy, civil rights, spyware, spam and free speech.
Auto complaints were the second-most popular, with 3,188 New Yorkers protesting their treatment in the areas of sales, services, financing, rentals and repairs.
Fraud claims related to restaurants, salons, moving companies, dry cleaners and other consumer service providers ranked third with 2,463 complaints.
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The AG received 1,961 landlord/tenant fraud complaints and 1,827 utilities-related complaints last year.
Credit fraud ranked sixth place with 1,436 complaints. Retails sales racked up 1,285 complaints while the categories of home repair/construction, mail order and mortgages rounded out the list with 982, 850 and 799 complaints, respectively.
“The best weapon against fraud is an informed consumer,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
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