Beware Of The Scams Via Phone, Text & Email
At the March 112th Precinct Community Council meeting, there was a discussion of a group of scams that have been targeting our residents.
Capt. Thomas Conforti, 112th Precinct commander, warned our residents not to be victims. Additionally, Inspector James Klein, commanding officer of the NYPD Crime Prevention Division, sent out a letter describing other scams and ways to avoid the “Green Dot” card scam.
In an effort to let our community know about these scams, I posted them to the 112th Precinct Community Council Facebook page, which everyone is welcome to like.
What happened during the rest of the week was amazing. People started to share additional scams. Every day, I received information about another scam.
Here’s a summary of the scams that we have been told about this week:
– A text message appears on your phone indicating that you just won a vacation to the Bahamas. All you have to do is call back the number and give your information.
– You get a phone call that you have won a trip to Disney World. On the phone call, all you have to do is hit a number and provide your information in order to receive your trip (I happened to receive this wonderful call).
– You get a phone call that your computer has been sending out messages. You need to send money to someone so they can go online and fix your computer.
– You get a phone call indicating that your computer has been hacked. Again, you are asked to send money in order to get the cure.
Bank email alert
In this cam, you get an email purportedly from your bank indicating fraud has been perpetrated against your account. There is a link for you to click and provide all of your personal information. Never click that link; always call your bank.
Vacation problem scam
– Members of a local organization got an email that the president of their organization was on vacation and had their wallet stolen. The email looked like it came from their president. It asked people to send money to help them. It was later revealed to be a scam.
– In another instance, someone got a call that a family member was on vacation in Mexico, got in trouble with the law and needed money. The person did not want to call their parents, so they called another relative asking for help. The caller had all the information and the correct names of relatives. Again, this was a revealed to be a scam.
Con Edison scams
– Individuals received a call from someone purportedly from Con Edison who claims that the individual owes money and that their electricity would be turned off immediately unless money is sent via a prepaid Green Dot debit card.
– You may receive a call from Con Edison indicating that you will get a discount on your bill if you give your information over the phone.
The following information was posted on the Internal Revenue Service website:
– The IRS has seen a recent increase in local phone scams across the country, with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. These phone scams include many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund.
Some calls can threaten arrest and threaten a driver’s license revocation. Sometimes these calls are paired with follow-up calls from people saying they are from the local police department or state motor vehicle department.
Scammers tend to use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves. They also “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free number on Caller ID to make it appear that the IRS is calling. Scammers may also send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
How to avoid scammers
Regarding the Green Dot Money Pak card scams, Inspector Klein noted part of the scam “is to have you buy the card, place money on the card and call back a specific telephone number that the scam artist gave you.”
“They will ask you to give them the 14-digit serial number off the back of the Green Dot Money Pak card and, when you do, your money will be lost,” he added. “Criminals are very convincing in this enterprise, and I ask you to stop and call 911 before buying a card.”
Klein added that “no government agency, utility company or law enforcement agency will ever contact you and ask for immediate payment using a Green Dot Money Pak card.”
Regarding the Con Ed scam, the utility company stated on its website the callers “are not from Con Edison and Con Edison does not authorize payments of electric or gas bills by prepaid debit cards such as the Green Dot Money Pak.”
“Be alert if anyone asks you by telephone to arrange for prepaid debit cards of any kind as payment for your bill, or to send money to an out-ofstate address,” the company warned. “Never arrange payment or divulge account of personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to a Con Edison representative.”
Additionally, Con Edison will not call to offer a discount on a bill in exchange for personal information. The scammer is trying to get your personal information. If you get this call, hang up.
The IRS also advises individuals who get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS to hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829- 1040. The IRS employees will verify if a payment issue exists.
“If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes,” the IRS added, “then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.”
Editor’s note: Heidi Harrison Chain is president of the 112th Precinct Community Council.