A 78-year-old man turned the tables on a Bronx scammer who claimed to be a grandson arrested for driving while intoxicated and urgently needed almost $10,000 in cash to get out of jail, Nassau police said Wednesday.
The scheme collapsed because the target does not have a grandson, police said.
Both Suffolk and Nassau police in recent months have warned that scammers are targeting the elderly by posing as relatives in distress, bill collectors, and tax authorities.
In this case, Carlos Miguel Torres Ferreira, 38, police said, called the victim at his home at about 12:45 p.m. and directed him to call the supposed district attorney's office to get the amount of bail needed to spring the grandson from jail.
But the victim — a retired member of law enforcement — instead called the cops, who then supervised the man's call to the fake district attorney's office, during which he was told his grandson's bail was $9,700, according to police.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the scheme showed a level of sophistication, with directions to call a government office an effort to "legitimize" the scam.
"They answered as 'District attorney's office, how can we help you?' " Ryder said, adding: "Nobody from the district attorney's office is gonna tell you to deliver bail to somebody on the street."
The victim and Ferreira agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Green Turtle restaurant in East Meadow and exchanged descriptions of their vehicles and identities, police said. But instead of the victim showing up, Ferreira was met by Nassau police detectives.
An undercover detective "dressed as an elderly male with a walker" approached Ferreira at about 5:17 p.m. and handed him an envelope and "confirmed the transaction," police said. Ferreira resisted arrest, leaving some of the officers attempting to take him into custody with "scrapes and bruises," Ryder said.
Ferreira, who authorities said has no prior criminal record, was arraigned Wednesday in First District Court in Hempstead on charges of felony grand larceny and misdemeanor resisting arrest. He was held on bail of $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash. His next court appearance is Friday.
Ryder said he wants every prospective scam victim to do the same thing that this retired member of law enforcement did — call the police before giving anyone money.
"Kudos to him that he was smart enough to reach out; smart enough to contact us, to keep the man on the hook a little bit," said Ryder. "He was very smart and astute to contact us."