Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business transactions that used to be done in person are increasingly being conducted online and through email. Unfortunately, online predators and scammers have caught on and are using manipulative business email schemes to prey on consumers.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz issued a warning about these business email scams saying that individuals are led to believe they are communicating with someone they trust, a lawyer or business acquaintance, and then are conned into sending or transferring money to the perpetrator who is just pretending to be someone they trust.
“My office is actively pursuing wrongdoers to protect Queens residents from these scam artists,” Katz said. “Members of the Queens Bar and realty community members should be aware that their electronic communications could be vulnerable and should take measures to protect their clients.”
Katz returned $38,671.50 that was recovered from an attempted email compromise scheme to Alemina Kadribegic and her father, who thought they were exchanging emails with their lawyer. They had sent a down payment for an apartment they were buying in Queens to their attorney’s escrow account.
In reality, Kadribegic had actually been misdirected by an imposter to send the money to a bank in Long Island, the DA’s investigation revealed. The account that received Kadribegic’s funds was actually physically located in Texas. The owner of the Texas account then withdrew approximately $10,500 of Kadribegic’s funds.
“Members of my office worked with the New York City Police Department and several law enforcement agencies in Texas to recover most of the money scammed from the victims of this case,” Katz said. “The investigation is ongoing. Today, however, we were able to return a substantial amount of the funds to the victims of this scheme.”
Katz thanked Kadribegic and her attorney, William Slutsky for their diligence and assistance. It was Slutsky who realized his online identity had been compromised and subsequently used in a ruse to gain the trust of Kadribegic and her father, according to Katz who added that anyone who feels they have been the victim of a scam to save whatever evidence you have, including exchanged messages and contact information. Then call your local NYPD precinct or the Queens District Attorney’s office at 718-286-6673.