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Council Speaker Pops Into F. Hills

Mark-Viverito Surprises Civic

New City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito made a surprise visit to the Forest Hills Community and Civic Association (FHCCA) meeting last Tuesday, May 13, at the American Legion Continental Post 1424.

Mark-Viverito met City Council Member Karen Koslowitz for dinner at a nearby restaurant and said she is pleased to be “figuring out how we can map productive relationships.”

The speaker introduced herself and fielded questions from the group for a few minutes before rushing off to a busy schedule.

She commended Koslowitz on the work she’s been doing in Queens, as well its community leaders.

“It’s been a real pleasure getting to know Karen, she’s really represented the district so well,” said Mark-Viverito, “[and I’ve been] getting to know her personally, to hear the concerns that she has and figuring out how we can be supportive.”

When Mark-Viverito was first elected, Koslowitz openly did not support the speaker, but Koslowitz stated she is a team player and needed to support her community and get her involved.

“I have to take care of my community,” said Koslowitz. “We’re establishing a good relationship and I’m very passionate about that because when politics is over you have to worry about your community and what you can bring back for your community.”

Turning to community issues, Koslowitz announced that the nonprofit organization, The Doe Fund is now cleaning Metropolitan Avenue after she donated to the organization and brought them to the area.

She emphasized her desire to clean up her district as she’s seen it getting messy, saying, “I don’t like it.”

Koslowitz also expressed her concern of the economic state of Austin Street, saying a medical center is moving into the recently closed Brandon Cinemas movie theater. She stated she doesn’t believe it’s a positive addition to the local economy.

Austin Street has several medical centers already, Koslowitz pointed out, and she would rather see more commercial businesses open up on the strip.

Koslowitz plans to meet with the new commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to see what can be done about vendor carts on Austin Street that were also a concern of locals.

“I’m working with the business people and I want to make Austin Street, Metropolitan Avenue and 63rd Drive a place we’re proud of to live in,” said Koslowitz. “This is our neighborhood and I think we have the right to say what we want and what we don’t.”

The precinct reports

Capt. Thomas Conforti, 112th Precinct commanding officer, stated he is now on Twitter providing the community with daily updates of police activity and will soon be on Facebook. He can be followed on Twitter at @nypd112pct.

Conforti also introduced the precinct’s new executive officer Capt. Hugh Bogle. He’s been serving at the 112th Precinct for 18 months. Before that assignment, he served the 108th Precinct, was lieutenant in the 44th Precinct and a patrol officer and sergeant in Brooklyn.

Crime in the 112th Precinct is down overall except for identity theft related crimes, explained Conforti, as a slew of citywide scams have hit Queens hard.

Eight out of ten people don’t carry more than five or ten dollars on them as everything is being paid for by credit card, explained Conforti. As a result, muggings are going by the wayside, while organized crime is becoming more prevalent such as implanting skimming devices.

Skimming devices have been found on bank ATMs and at the entrances, where customers are required to swipe their credit card to get to the ATM after hours. Both devices record credit card numbers, which are sent to the perpetrator’s cell phones.

On the ATM, tiny cameras have been found, which record the bankers’ PIN which is also sent to the perpetrator’s phone. Some keypads may also have covers on them that record pin numbers punched into it.

Residents were encouraged to cover their hand when entering their PIN at any ATM machine to prevent any camera from picking up the numbers. Police advised residents to check the keypad to make sure a cover has not been installed and only use ATMs with a flashing light on the skimmer.

If an illegal device has been put on the ATM, it was noted, there will be no light because it’s covered by the device.

While the captain does not speak for the banks, he has seen many cases where the banks refund money stolen from victims from such scams sometimes requiring a police report, but usually reporting suspicious spending will suffice.

The Green Dot scam is also still prevalent, warned Conforti, who has been paying particular attention to seniors in the area.

Scammers pose as the IRS, Con Edison and distressed relatives coerce victims into purchasing a Green Dot card at a local store in order to escape further penalties or utility disruptions, or to help family members.

The perpetrators have victims give them the Green Dot card serial number, and then they extract the money from the card.

The scammers have also called as police, said Conforti, such as one case when a scammer made a call as a captain of the 109th Precinct asking for funds.

“Con Edison does not shut off utilities over the phone, 100 percent they don’t,” said Conforti. “Any police agency that is legitimate does not solicit funds over the phone.”

He encouraged anyone receiving these calls to hang up and report it to their local authorities.

The next Forest Hills Community and Civic Association meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m. at American Legion Continental Post 1424, located at 107-15 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills. For more information, visit www.fhcivic.org.

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