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Police: More Scams Targeting New Canaan's Elderly

NEW CANAAN, Conn.  – Older New Canaan residents increasingly are becoming targets of scams and the New Canaan Police want to make sure they don’t become victims.

Within the past two months, Police Lt. Vincent DeMaio said the department has received at least 30 reports of attempted frauds against the town’s senior residents, including by mail and phone.

The latest came last Thursday when a 50-year-old Parade Hill Road resident reportedly lost $980 in a shopping scam. DeMaio said the woman received a fraudulent $1,500 check from a company called Global Test Marketing asking her to take part in a secret shopper program. The letter indicated she could cash the check, keep $300 for herself and send $980 by wire transfer to someone in London. The woman wired the money, DeMaio said, and later was told the deposited check had bounced.

Other residents have been targets of the “grandparent scam,” where a call is placed by someone pretending to be a grandchild who’s been arrested in a foreign country, begging the potential victim to wire money to make bail. They also might try the “lottery scam,” telling someone they won a foreign country’s lottery and need to send money to secure the prize.

DeMaio said scammers try to take advantage of elderly residents who grew up in different times when people were more polite and trusting.

“They use social engineering to get people to comply,” DeMaio said. “They understand and work on those sensibilities.”

DeMaio added these scams may be underreported in town because victims may not want to be viewed as vulnerable or mentally incapable by family members.

To combat these crimes, New Canaan police and the Peoples United Bank will host a forum at 4 p.m. April 11 at the New Canaan Inn to talk to residents about what to look out for in a potential scam. The main thing people can do, DeMaio said, is never wire money to someone you don’t know and to be aware of anyone saying they’re offering free money.

“Think of the old adage of ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,’ ” he said.

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