Two men were arrested Wednesday for an alleged scam in which a 76-year-old woman in Westbury was convinced to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of gold bars, which thieves would then pick up for "safe keeping," according to police.

The scam began to unravel when the woman, who had already bought more than $194,000 in gold bars, became suspicious after scammers called once again to tell her to buy nearly $192,000 more of the gold bars and leave them for pickup under a tree in front of her house, Nassau County police said.

Instead she called the police, and Arpit Dineshbhai Patel, 38, of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hitesh Jashbhai Patel, 49, Jersey City, New Jersey, were arrested days later, the department said.

Government impersonation schemes are listed as the No. 1 scam targeting the elderly population, according to the National Council on Aging.

More than 92,000 victims over age 60 reported losses totaling $1.3 billion in 2021, according to an FBI report from that year.

In the Westbury case, neither the men nor any attorneys could be reached for comment Thursday morning.

The scam began May 19, with a call from a man "claiming to work for a computer security company," police said in a news release.

"The subject advised that her computer had been compromised and she needed to secure her finances. He recommended that she transfer money out of her account and purchase gold with her savings," which she did by buying $194,152 worth of gold bars. The subject arranged a meeting and informed the victim that federal employees would arrive to obtain the gold bars for safe keeping," the release said.

Those involved in the first pickup remain at large. Police didn't say whether the gold bars were recovered.

The men arrested Wednesday were charged with attempted grand larceny in connection with three additional gold bars she bought worth $191,836 that she was told to leave under the tree.

The men are to be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead.
The victim's name was not disclosed.

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