A 78-year-old Upper West Side grandmother loses $9,500 in a bail scam

Elderly New Yorkers fall victim to bail-related scams; authorities seek leads on recent Upper West Side incident.

On August 23, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a 78-year-old grandmother was deceived into parting with almost $10,000. The scammer, claiming to be a friend of her incarcerated grandson, convinced her to pay this amount as a bail bond.

The unsuspecting grandmother received a distressing call from an individual impersonating her grandson. The caller urgently requested $9,500, claiming it was for his bail. Eager to help, the elderly woman agreed to the demand. Within an hour, a courier, said to represent the impersonated grandson, arrived at her residence.

The man, driving a white Toyota with New York license plates, collected the money. However, the quick-thinking victim managed to snap a photograph of the man before he sped off. This photograph was later made public by the NYPD, as the New York Post reported.

A Pattern Emerges

Regrettably, this incident isn’t unique. Older New Yorkers are frequently preyed upon in bail-related frauds, often with claims of relatives in legal trouble. Sometimes, these scams have links to the Hispanic community.

Armando Aquino Jimenez from The Bronx was behind bars in the fall of 2021. He was accused of defrauding an 87-year-old Greenwich, Connecticut resident of $9,500 under the guise of being her grandson.

In a parallel incident earlier that year, Anderson Espinal Corona was apprehended on Long Island, suspected of a similar crime. His arrest came shortly after New York Attorney General Letitia James publicly cautioned senior citizens about this burgeoning “grandparent scam.”

Rewinding to 2020, Anthony Rosario Mendez from Brooklyn devised a slightly different ruse. Presenting himself as an attorney, Mendez informed grandparents that their beloved grandchildren were behind bars and desperately needed bail money. His fraudulent activities ranged in amounts from $3,000 to a staggering $20,000, victimizing individuals aged between 74 and 90.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez once advised, “Never agree to hand over money without contacting your grandchild, their parents, or another family member to determine if they are safe. Report any suspicious solicitations to authorities.”

A Call to Action

While the city grapples with these scams, authorities urge New Yorkers to remain alert. Victims, or those who suspect foul play, are encouraged to lodge a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Fraud and Protection. They can also reach out by dialing 800-771-7755.

The recent Upper West Side incident remains unresolved, with the perpetrator still at large. Anyone with potential leads is urged to contact 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). Spanish speakers can dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or via text at 274637 (CRIMES), followed by TIP577. Assurances have been given that all communications will be kept confidential.