CORONA — A fraudster swindled an elderly man out of thousands of dollars by pretending he was his grandson, telling him he needed bail money to stay out of a Dominican Republic jail, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.
Andrew Sanders, 25, of Corona, allegedly called up an 86-year-old man in January posing as his grandson, "Nathaniel," and told him he was busted in Santo Domingo with one and a half pounds of marijuana.
Another man, who identified himself as "Sergeant Williams," also got on the phone and said he should send $9,800 in cash for a bond to keep "Nathaniel" out of jail, the DA said.
The elderly man was told to divide the cash in two packages, hidden between magazines, and mail it to an address in Jamaica, Queens.
"Sergeant Williams" called back the victim days later and demanded an additional $22,000 — sending it to Sanders' Corona Avenue home address, according to the DA.
Days later, he was called a third time and told his grandson was being detained by the United States Customs in Florida and would need to be sent an additional $23,000, according to the DA. When the victim told the fraudulent sergeant he couldn't afford that much money, he sent what he could — $12,600 in cash to the Corona address.
The victim's daughter notified the police when she found out her father sent a total of $41,600 in the scheme, officials said.
District Attorney Richard Brown said it's an unfortunately common scam, particularly against the elderly.
"Before thinking about sending money, ask questions of the impostor that only the family member would know the answers to or after hanging up with the impostor, call the family member directly," he said in a statement.
"A single phone call can save a person thousands of dollars in savings and embarrassment at being conned.”
Sanders was arraigned Thursday on charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. He is currently being held on $10,000 bail and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the case.