Police say the suspect called the woman twice. The second time he knew her name and had some other information about her and said he needed to update her health insurance information. He said to do that he needed her Social Security number. She gave it to him and that's all he needed.
“He basically got what he wanted. He wanted her Social Security number and he got it. Officer Lance Duffy is with the Gates Police Department. He says the suspect is a stranger.
The 92-year-old woman lives at Dunn Tower in Gates. Duffy says the caller and most scammers know if you mention health insurance you're going to scare seniors.
“That's scary for an older adult. Health insurance is extremely important.” Lindsay Calamia is an elder abuse prevention case worker at Lifespan. “So it may make sense to someone that I need to verify that information when in reality they're just another target.”
We asked Gates Police if they can track where those checks are going and arrest the owner of that account. Officer Duffy said, “Yes. Currently the investigation is continuing. A lot of these scams are overseas. They could be in Jamaica, Nigeria, they could be up in Canada so it's very hard to track the money.”
Berkeley Brean: “You think that's where this woman's money is going? Overseas?”
Officer Duffy: “It could be yeah and it's very difficult for us to track these situations.”
Brean: “But can't Social Security track where this money is going?”
Duffy: “Yeah, we're currently working on that.”
Duffy says about $1,000 was paid out before the woman called police. He says Social Security has put a stop to the payments but he doesn't know if Social Security is paying the money she is entitled to and needs to live.
The important thing to remember is that the legitimate agencies you deal with from RG&E to your health insurance provider to the IRS, never call you demanding money or information. They will always send a letter asking you to contact them. Any other kind of communication is a red flag.