Orchard Park neighbor intervenes to protect elderly widow from scammers - The Buffalo News

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Orchard Park neighbor intervenes to protect elderly widow from scammers

Another Jamaica-based telemarketing fraud targeting the elderly is apparently looking to take money from older Western New Yorkers, despite the recent arraignment of four men in federal court here on fraud and money laundering charges for allegedly defrauding an 82-year-old Buffalo man out of $100,000.

An Orchard Park man said this weekend that he helped prevent his 83-year-old neighbor from turning over $17,000 to parties who have been calling her repeatedly from at least four phone numbers based in Jamaica for the past month after sending her mailings announcing that she had won $2.5 million.

He said the callers told her that to get the money, she had to pay $10,000 in taxes, $7,000 in handling fees and $2,000 in processing charges.

At first, the woman didn’t respond, but the calls continued and she did. As instructed, she went to a store to buy four money cards each worth $500 to cover the processing charges.

The neighbor, who checks on the elderly widow daily, said he found the cards in her home and that although she didn’t recall redeeming the cards, three had zero balances and he found $500 in $20 bills apparently from the fourth card.

He said she then went to her bank and tried to withdraw $17,000, apparently to pay the taxes and handling fees, but the bank employees wouldn’t do the transaction because they suspected she was being scammed. So she wrote two checks – one for $10,000 and the other for $7,000 – and mailed them to the Florida addresses that the callers had given her.

After the neighbor discovered what as going on, the woman asked the bank to close the account as he suggested. He also went to the post office to recover the two checks, which were made out to a man at an address in North Lauderdale, Fla.

The neighbor said he told Orchard Park Police about the calls and was referred to the FBI, Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

An Olean woman said her mother was the victim of similar scams and that the family reported the problem to local and state police who indicated they could do nothing because the scammers use stolen disposable phones and disappear after using vacant homes to make the calls.

Barbara Burns, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., recommended that calls about such scams be directed to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The four men arraigned Oct. 8 in federal court here are Jamaican citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S.

They are accused of carrying out a fake lottery scheme in New York City that victimized the Buffalo man and nine others from outside Western New York. The scam, uncovered by Homeland Security and Postal Service agents, targeted the elderly and is alleged to have lasted from March 2011 to last June.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com

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