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The City

July 2, 2014

Elderly man scammed out of thousands

Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda police say an 84-year-old man was scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars last week. 

The man received a call from an out-of-state phone number from an individual claiming to be his grandson, who currently attends college in Michigan. The person pretending to be the grandson said he had been arrested because of drugs and needed money. 

That person then handed the phone to another man who identified himself as Sgt. Price of the City of Detroit Police Department. The man impersonating an officer told the Tonawanda man that he would need money “in order for his grandson to be bailed out and to not have this in the papers.” 

Tonawanda Police Capt. Frederic Foels said over the course of three or four days ending June 24, the senior citizen purchased $35,500 in “Green Dot Money Pak” cards in $500 denominations from several stores, then fed scratch-off code numbers to the impostors several times during consecutive days. 

“Grandpa goes and gets the cards, tears off the serial number and read them to him,” Foels said. “This goes on for a few days.” 

Eventually, the elderly man called his son, who also lives in Michigan, to inquire about his grandson’s arrest, when the man’s son stated that no such arrest took place, police said. 

“That’s when he realized he was a victim of a scam,” Foels said, adding that the call apparently originated from Canada. 

Tonawanda police have now reached out to the FBI and Canadian authorities to try and track the calls. They’ve also reached out to Green Dot representatives.  

“We were able to halt some of the cards,” Foels said. “And Green Dot security is still working on it. But once the number is given the money is virtually gone.” 

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