An elderly Milford man fell victim to a phone scam and is now out more than $21,000.
Milford police said the man, who is in his 70s, was contacted by a male who claimed to be his grandson. The caller reportedly said he was involved in a motor vehicle accident and was in need of financial assistance.
"Over the course of several phone calls, the fraudster posing as the grandson, explained to the victim that he was at fault for the accident and that the occupants of the other vehicle had left the country on a plane to Bolivia," Milford police said. "The conversations continued with the victim being told that money was needed to resolve the matter between attorneys, damages to property and for the release of the grandson from police custody."
The victim was provided with a recipient’s name and instructed to electronically transfer money via Western Union to Bolivia, according to police. These transfers consisted of six separate transactions from three different locations at stores in Milford and Stratford, for a total of $21,610.
After each transaction, the fraudster would ask if the transaction was completed and then give another excuse as to why more funds were needed, police said.
As part of their investigation, police have alerted several businesses which offer these types of services to be aware of these scams and to encourage potential victims to contact authorities.
In light of the scam, offer the following tips:
- If someone claims to be a relative, ask for his/her name instead of offering the name to the fraudster.
- Ask personal questions that would be difficult for an imposter to answer.
- Contact the person they claim to be directly and verify the call or email.
- Report any suspicious incidents to your local police department.
These types of tips are part of a regular message that Milford police deliver in the community throughout the year. Public Information Officer Jeff Nielsen says the department hosts workshops at the and includes tips in the center's monthly newsletter.
One of the most important thing residents can do, he says, is to report suspicious activity. If a scam goes unreported, more people can become victims, he notes.
"A lot of people do not report fraudulent activity, especially when they lose money, beause they’re embararased and don’t want to tell their family," he says. "We need to to prevent people from being a victim."