The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning against a fraud scheme that is scamming senior citizens and the elderly based in New Jersey to the tune of $1 million. The FBI's Newark office issued the advisory on Friday, May 15, warning of a surge in such cases across the state since January.

"The FBI's Newark Field Office is warning of an increase in fraud schemes that target grandparents in New Jersey," the FBI said in its statement. "Since January, fraudsters have preyed on dozens of grandparents throughout the state. These victims have lost a combined total that is expected to surpass a million dollars."

Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said they're raising awareness and warning as many people as possible in order to prevent these schemers from duping others.

Modus Operandi

Senior Citizen
An elderly woman answers the phone (For representational purpose only). Pixabay

According to the agency, the scammers call the elderly citizens posing as a bail bondsman, lawyer, or a member of law enforcement and tell them that their relative or loved one is in trouble and in desperate need of money. The victim is then directed to withdraw a large sum of money and told to hand it over to a courier who will come pick it up from their home.

"This version of the scheme is slightly more personal and more dangerous," Ehrie said. "Any time a criminal comes to your home, you are extremely vulnerable."

Report Calls to Local Law Enforcement

The agency noted that if you receive such a call, remain calm try to obtain as much information as possible from the caller, including the phone number, if possible. Once you end the call, reach out to a family member to verify the information, or call a trusted friend for help.

If you are still unable to verify the caller's information and feel like you need to withdraw the money from your account, officials say you should consult with your bank manager for guidance. The FBI has warned against wiring funds to unknown sources overseas as victims will never be able to retrieve their funds.

Authorities have also urged people to contact their local police department or the FBI if they receive such a call. File a complaint at IC3.gov or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.