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SERIAL SCAM ARTIST BILKS ELDERLY WOMAN OUT OF $10,000

A serial scam artist has struck again, fleecing one elderly Amherst woman out of $10,000 after being thwarted just hours earlier at another bank by an alert teller, according to Amherst police.

The same "distinguished-looking" suspect bilked two other elderly Amherst residents out of a total of $11,100 in May, police said. The man in each case was described as a nicely dressed white male, about 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds with graying hair.

The two incidents Friday took place at the Marine Midland bank branches on Main Street in Snyder and at Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence. The suspect -- identifying himself as a bank examiner named Mr. Grant, Mr. Bell, Mr. King or Mr. Novis -- contacts his victim by phone, explaining money is missing from her account and that a bank employee is the likely culprit, and says her help is needed in the "investigation."

In some cases, the women were instructed to make two successive withdrawals, Amherst Assistant Police Chief Frank Olesko explained. They were told not to tell a soul and to meet the "examiner" in a parking lot with the cash.

The victim makes the withdrawal, arrives at the meeting place and hands over her money. The "examiner," assures her that after he completes his investigation, he will redeposit the funds in her account.

He is never seen again.

"This just doesn't happen. Bank security never does this," Olesko warned. "If people get these calls, notify police."

In one case Friday, an 81-year-old East Amherst woman received a phone call and, as instructed, wrote two checks -- for $4,900 and $5,400 -- and cashed them. She waited four hours after giving the money to "Mr. King" in the parking lot..

Earlier, a Snyder woman held onto her money, thanks to a teller who questioned her attempt to withdraw $6,500.

"Finally the teller got the woman to tell her the truth," Olesko reported.

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