Employees at a Glen Cove CVS Pharmacy alerted a customer that she was being scammed out of $1,500, Glen Cove City police said.
Antonella Coscarelli, the assistant manager at the store, said she became suspicious when an employee working the register told her that an older woman wanted to purchase three iTunes gift cards, each worth $500.
Coscarelli, who says she’s seen similar scams before, said she asked the woman why she needed the gift cards.
The woman said a man who identified himself as her grandson’s attorney told her that her grandson was in jail and needed $1,500 in gift cards to be used as a bond, according to Coscarelli, 23, of Glen Cove.
“Unless you’re a DJ, nobody buys $500 worth of iTunes gift cards. So that was definitely a red flag for me,” she said.
Though Coscarelli cautioned her against it, she said the woman, who police said is 85 years old, ended up making the purchase anyway. The woman later returned to the CVS at 65 Forest Ave., after she spoke with her son and learned her grandson was not jailed, Coscarelli said.
“She just came up to me, and was like you’re my hero,” Coscarelli said, adding that the woman was “lucky” she didn’t give the scammer the codes to redeem the gift cards and will be able to get her money back once the prepaid cards are returned.
Police said they’re investigating the incident, which was reported last Tuesday, though no arrests have yet been made.
Glen Cove Deputy Police Chief Christopher Ortiz said the area has been especially hard hit by scams involving prepaid gift cards.
“These criminals are extremely crafty in what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re able to get names of grandchildren and will stage phone calls asking for help with bail money or back taxes.”
To combat the issue, the department launched a public awareness campaign in June to help local retail employees spot scams. Fliers were posted at businesses throughout the area with information on how the schemes work and how to prevent them.
“We hope that this program will continue to keep other people from falling victim,” Ortiz said.