(TLN) The New Year did not start well for four Laval women caught in Albany NY for a “Grandparent Scam operation”.
On January 7, Christina M. Antonakakis, 29, Sophia Mikelakis, 57, Nora Apkarian, 42, and Anahid Apkarian, 61, traveled from Laval, to the Albany area to pick up cash packages at a UPS store sent by their various victims, or have a legitimate carrier pick up the package and bring it to them at a hotel, but they were arrested before the operation was completed.
In the police operation took part the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit in Albany, the Menands Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations which they say they made the arrests after an investigation into an organized criminal operation based out of Laval.
Police say the operation targeted the elderly community in what is known as a “Grandparent Scam”.
How the Grandparent Scam works
In this scam, an anonymous person contacts an elderly person either by phone or email, and identifies himself as their grandson. He indicates that he has been arrested in another state and needs money quickly to pay for bail. He advises that the grandparent cannot tell his parents because he doesn’t want to upset them. A second person then gets on the phone and identifies himself as a police officer. The alleged police officer advises where and how to send the cash to pay for the bail. The officer then advises the grandparent if another agency contacts them, the other agency is scamming them, and they should not provide any information to them.
The four women face charges of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Antonakakis and Mikelakis are also charged with 3rd degree attempted grand larceny. Antonakakis and Mikelakis were granted bail of $30,000 US each while the mother and daughter Apkarians were given bail of $35,000 US each, said to The Laval News New York State Police trooper William Duffy.
“It is interesting that here we have two mother-daughters duo”, added trooper Duffy
Phone scam capital
It turns out, that the area code 514 and 450 is to phone scams what Nigeria is to email fraud. Vancouver, Toronto, and bilingual Montreal have long been hubs of call centers for reputable firms—for catalog sales or orders for parts—and less-than-reputable enterprises pushing, say, credit cards to the financially vulnerable. (In the mid-2000s, some of those legitimate call centers were outsourced to places where labor is cheap, such as India, the Philippines.) The metropolitan area of Montreal which includes Laval, is the Queen City of the grandparent scam, as well as a whole litany of other frauds, many of them aimed at telephone numbers in the U.S.
It is estimated that phone scams targeting USA citizens surpass annually 3 billion dollars.