FBI Buffalo
Buffalo Press Office
(716) 843-1788
September 30, 2021

FBI Buffalo Field Office Alerts Public to Rise in Grandparent Scams

The Buffalo FBI Field Office has been alerted to an increase in the number of complaints involving “grandparent scams” happening in western New York. These scams target the elderly with local losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nationally, from January 2020 to June 2021, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 650 reports of potential grandparent scams, resulting in losses of more than $13 million. During that timeframe, over 90 victims reported money was picked up from their home, resulting in losses of more than $3.6 million.

This is the version of the grandparent scam that law enforcement has been alerted to in western New York:

  • An elderly person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild;
  • The grandchild is frantic and panicked and claims to have been in a serious car accident;
  • The grandchild is in distress and says they have been arrested and in need of bail money;
  • The grandchild then gives the phone to their attorney who directs the grandparent to go to the bank and withdraw thousands of dollars in cash, to put the cash in an envelope, and then to wait for a courier to arrive at their house to pick it up the money; and
  • A short time later a car or van arrives at the home of the grandparent and someone gets out of the car and collects the cash from the victim.

The Buffalo FBI is asking rideshare drivers who have been called to pick up mail or envelopes from an elderly person’s home to immediately report it to law enforcement.

We are also asking the public to please alert family members and elderly neighbors to this fraud. The scammers are convincing and the experience has proven traumatic for the victims.

If someone receives a call like the one described above they should immediately hang up and report the call to their local police department and to the FBI at ic3.gov. The Buffalo FBI is working with police departments and sheriffs’ offices throughout western New York to find and arrest the people involved in these crimes. We are also investigating those who are orchestrating these scams from outside the region.

To learn more about the grandparent scam read this FBI Alert issued on July 29, 2021.