New York State attorney general targets senior scams in Merrick


TJ Hatter, a representative of the Attorney General of New York Letitia James, stopped by the Merrick Senior Center on May 23 to raise awareness of senior scams — the fraudulent phone calls, emails and letters urging the receiver to hand over large sums of money.

The nature of the scams is always deceitful, Hatter said. Often, the scammer will pose as the senior’s relative, such as a grandchild, and claim to be in danger. Other times, they act as a lawyer or police officer. Regardless, they always ask for thousands of dollars to immediately bail the scammer out of a situation.

In front of dozens of seniors, Hatter shared his office’s tips on avoiding the scams.

“Ask questions about your grandchild only they would know; ask for the number for the law enforcement agency, car repair shop or hospital where they claim your grandchild is; if you can, call their parents; call or text your grandchild,” are some of the keys, Hatter said.

But, no matter what, Hatter said, “do not send these people your money. Never give money to someone who calls you, only give money to someone you’ve researched and you’ve decided to call.”

“If they’re a legitimate business or a family member is really in trouble,” Hatter added, “you will always, always be able to call them back.”

In addition, Hatter warned residents not to answer suspicious calls. Once answered, and once the receiver speaks, the scammer knows that that is an active phone number.

“The best way to avoid these is to not answer the phone unless you recognize it as a friend or family member,” Hatter said.

For more information, visit the Attorney’s General website at