Internet scams were on the rise during an otherwise quiet summer for the 111th Precinct, officials said.
Jack Fried, president of the precinct’s Community Council, said he was one of hundreds to recently receive a fake but convincing email from Chase Bank, which sought vital information like his social security and account numbers.
The electronic note, which appeared to be on official Chase letterhead, is part of a popular scam called “spoofing,” according to Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta.
Thieves forge e-mail headers so the message appears to be sent from the original source. The scam usually targets the elderly or those not as savvy with technology, officials said.
Huerta said he has seen seniors lose their life savings after falling victim to the hoax.
“There’s a big increase in identity theft,” Huerta said. “It’s an epidemic and it’s taking the form of all kinds of different scams.”
The 111th Precinct said grand larcenies, mostly identity theft related, made up for the biggest spike in crime – an increase of 14 for the year.
“The only way to stop this is to stop falling for it,” Huerta said. “Unfortunately, it’s difficult.”
The precinct’s commanding officer warned residents not to click scam links which usually have an @ symbol in the web address. Safe links from official, secure sites will almost always begin with “https,” experts say.
Car break-ins have also been “popping up all over the precinct” and are no longer in clustered areas, according to Huerta. In the last six weeks, cops have arrested at least four people caught in the act, he said.
No officers were awarded at the Community Council’s meeting this month, which started up after a summer break. But the precinct’s top cop received an accolade of his own.
Huerta was promoted to deputy inspector last week.
The “Cops of the Month” award program will pick up again in October, officials said.