Police Alert Residents of Scams
The Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments are advising county residents
to be alert for various scams, especially during the holiday season.
Scammers are always out there and they have utilized many different techniques to take
advantage of unsuspecting victims. Parishes in the Diocese have had their emails
compromised with a party hacking into the email address and using the email’s
address book to contact victims stating it was the pastor sending the email and
either looking for money to be sent or for the victim to purchase gift cards and
then sending the gift card’s information to an email that looked like the pastor’s
email address but wasn’t.
The Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) is warning residents of a phone
scam that involves callers spoofing a SCPD phone number and demanding
payment for an alleged warrant for the victim’s arrest.
“Recently, a Melville man reported to police he received two scam phone calls.
During the first call, the victim was instructed to remain on the line, drive to his
bank and await further instructions on how to clear up a warrant for criminal
activity. During the course of the call, the man received a second phone call,
which displayed a legitimate Second Precinct phone number on his caller ID. The
caller identified himself as a police officer and provided a fake badge number and
threatened to arrest the man if he did not comply with the instructions from the
first caller. The scammers used spoofing software to enable the calls to appear as if they were
coming from legitimate sources. As a reminder, the Suffolk County Police Department will never call the public asking for money and will produce identification upon the request of a member of
the public. If a member of the public has any doubt concerning the identity of
someone who represents to be a police officer, they are encouraged to call the
police to confirm such identity.”
The SCPD has other scams they would like residents to be aware of:
"GOFUNDME" AND CROWDFUNDING SCAMS
“Recently, the New York State Attorney General announced that he has filed a
law suit against a woman who illegally profited from funds raised on the
charitable donation site GoFundMe.com. The woman created a GoFundMe page
and raised funds for a memorial scholarship fund, but kept more than 50% of the
profits for herself. Crowdfunding as a source for charitable giving is growing in
popularity and allows for direct peer-to-peer donations, instead of giving
contributions to organizations themselves. It is important as consumers to be aware of scams involving
crowdfunding websites and follow a few important tips to stay informed and be safe.
Tips for Consumers There are many different crowdfunding platforms. Make sure you understand
how the platform you are using works:
o Use reputable, well-established websites with a known track record. Some crowdfunding websites vet projects and others do not. You should understand what the website requires from a campaign before it is posted.
o Know what you are getting for your contribution. In some cases your contribution will be a
donation, and in others it may entitle you to a product or a share of a company.
o Know what protections the crowdfunding platform provides. In most cases, the platform will not reimburse you if a campaign fails to deliver what it promised.
o Your first line of defense when donating is to check the terms and conditions of crowdfunding
websites. There are several important questions you should ask when reviewing terms and
o Is the website vouching for the credibility of the charitable cause?
o Does the website check to see if funds raised are going towards the intended purpose stated
on the website?
o If I believe my donation did not go towards its intended purpose, what recourse do I have
to get a refund?
o Understand if there are any fees associated with each contribution and whether a crowdfunding
website is retaining a portion of your contribution.
Don’t give out sensitive personal information such as a Social Security number or password to
anyone who solicits a contribution from you. When donating online, make sure the website is
secure and includes ‘https’ in the web address. Donating with a credit card provides more
protection than a check while still offering a paper trail documenting the transaction.
Thoroughly research the project before contributing:
o Be wary of campaigns with few details. Credible projects will have established web and social
media presence, and offer regular updates.
o Check the campaign creator’s social media accounts to confirm identities and real-world
o Many crowdfunding platforms will let you write to a project’s creator. Ask questions and review
how the creator has responded to others.
o Compare details with other campaigns for similar products. If it seems too good to be true, it
FEDERAL STUDENT TAX SCAM
USA Today (6/19, Tompor) reports scammers are targeting college students under the guise of
collecting a “federal student tax.” A spokesman for the IRS, Luis Garcia says this particular scam is unusual because the tax mentioned doesn’t even exist. Even more troubling is it appears the scammers know how to tailor their phone calls to the potential victims they're calling. The IRS is warning to “guard your personal information, do not overshare on social media and realize that an e-mail can easily contain a link to a site that will imitate an official-looking website.”
"THIS IS PSE&G . WE WILL SHUT OFF YOUR SERVICE" SCAM
PSEG Long Island is warning its customers to be on alert for phone and email payment scams, and thieves posing as utility workers, which could put their financial and personal security at risk. As reported in various news outlets, burglars are posing as utility workers, contractors and surveyors. These imposters are distracting homeowners while an accomplice steals items from the home. The phone and email scam, which is plaguing utilities across the country, involves individuals misrepresenting themselves as utility collections representatives threatening to turn off electric service if payment is not made to them that day via a Green Dot MoneyPak.
PSEG Long Island employees have photo identification badges that must be displayed at all times. If you are not sure of an employee’s identity or have difficulty with the badges when someone comes to your home, call PSEG Long Island’s customer service center at 1-800-490-0025. A customer service representative can verify that an employee has been dispatched to your premises.
When PSEG Long Island makes an outbound phone call to customers, the representative will ask to speak to the Customer of Record. If that person is available, the PSEG Long Island representative will explain why they are calling and will share information that includes the account name, address and current balance. If customers do not receive this correct information, they likely are not speaking with a PSEG Long Island representative. Additionally, if the Customer of Record is not available, the PSEG Long Island representative will not discuss the account at all. If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a call or someone trying to get inside your home that is representing PSEG Long Island, especially one in which payment is requested, please call PSEG Long Island directly at 1-800-490-0025. For the latest information about how to identify PSEG Long Island employees and information about the scam, please visit www.psegliny.com/scam.
“THIS IS THE IRS. YOU OWE & WE ARE COMING FOR YOU” SCAM
Some residents of Suffolk County have reported being contacted by a person who claims to be a representative of the Internal Revenue Service. The caller often claims their role with the IRS is a senior auditor or investigator. Generally, the caller starts off with a polite “suggestion” that the IRS has uncovered some discrepancies with your filings and that you owe the IRS money. If you do not initially cave to their scheme, the callers have a history of amping up the pressure, becoming more accusatory, and in some cases claiming that a warrant has been issued for your arrest and that agents are on their way to arrest you. DO NOT provide these individuals with ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION, BANKING INFORMATION, CREDIT/DEBIT
CARDS NUMBERS OR SEND THEM MONEY VIA ELECTRONIC WIRE. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, the IRS recommends the following:
o If you know, or believe, that you owe taxes, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
o If you know that you do not owe taxes and believe that the call was a scam attempt, please call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
For a News12 report on this very scam, please click: http://longisland.news12.com/news/police-warn-suffolkresidents-of-irs-phone-scam-1.8414640
The IRS website contains a section pertaining to Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts: http://www.irs.gov/uac/TaxScams-Consumer-Alerts
The Suffolk County Police Department has received complaints where members of the public reported receiving a telephone call from an unknown person and the caller attempts to extort the complainant. In this scam, the caller contacts an unsuspecting person and says that a relative of the prospective victim was in a car accident with the caller and that they are holding the relative hostage until a sum of money is paid to the caller. If the payment is not made, or the police are called, the caller says he will kill or seriously hurt the relative. In the incidents that we have seen here in Suffolk County, the caller asks the prospective victim to wire the money from a local shopping center or supermarket and claims that they are watching you. While the Department has seen a few variations of this scam, the premise is generally the same. If you should receive a
call of this nature, try to independently verify the threatened relative’s whereabouts and do not give out any personal information to the caller. We also ask that you notify the Suffolk County Police Department so that the matter can be investigated.
o One such variation of this scam is the caller who claims that a relative of yours is in custody by
police in a foreign country for a serious crime. The subject may ask that you post bail for your
loved one by using your credit card or providing bank information for an electronic withdrawal.
Most times contacting the relative that the caller claims is in custody will show that the relative has not travelled to that location and is safe and sound.
Smartphone Users Beware of Malware Targeting Mobile Devices
The FBI and the IC3 have announced the discovery of various malware attacks on the Android mobile device operating systems. Some of the newest versions of this type of malware are Loozfon and FinFisher.
Loozfon is an information-stealing piece of malware. Like many of the scams that we see in the County and across the Nation, the criminals tactics to lure victims vary. In today’s economic environment, criminals often turn to the “easy payday” or “quick payday” scams. One version announced by the IC3 is a work-at-home“opportunity” that promises a profitable payday just for sending out e-mail. A link within these advertisements leads to a website that is designed to push Loozfon on the user’s device. The malicious application then steals the contact details from the user’s contact list or address book. FinFisher is spyware that is capable of “commandeering” the components of a mobile device. Once FinFisher is active on an infected device, the mobile device can be remotely controlled and monitored no matter where the Target is located. FinFisher can be easily transmitted to a smartphone when the user visits a specific web link or opens a text message masquerading as a system update. The IC3 release warning about this scam, and what you can do to protect yourself against this vulnerability, can be found at: http://www.ic3.gov/media/2012/121012.aspx.
SCAMS SEEN IN SUFFOLK
UNITED NATIONS FUND BENEFICIARY LETTER – The Computer Crimes Unit has seen incidents where residents of Suffolk County have been contacted via e-mail and advised that they were beneficiaries of a fund being monitored by the United Nations. In order to recoup these funds, they were advised to respond to the e-mail with personal identifying information. By responding to this e-mail and providing this information, you are giving them the tools or “items of information” that will likely make you a victim of identity theft. While this particular scam involves the criminals trying to mask their scheme by using the United Nations, there are a few versions (the use of different organizations) of this type of scam being perpetrated throughout
HOUSING RENTAL SCAMS
The Computer Crimes Unit has received a number of inquiries from homeowners and real estate professionals who stated that their listing for a rental has appeared on Craig’s List or other real estate based websites, but the contact information, e-mail address, and phone numbers are not their own. The scammer’s listing, or follow-up e-mail correspondences, usually contain “indicators” that should raise a red flag to potential renters. These include:
o The e-mail may contain numerous spelling and/or grammatical errors.
o There may be an excessive use of capital letters.
o The e-mail or listing may say that the owner is a missionary that is overseas or an entrepreneur who got called overseas for a business opportunity and therefore they would like to conduct business through use of e-mail, telephone, money orders, and/or cashier’s check.
o The e-mail or listing may contain references to “God”, looking for “God fearing tenants”, or some other indicator that they are looking for tenants who “will do the right thing”.
o There are references to amounts with the dollar sign to the right rather than to the left of the amount (i.e. $2,500 will be listed in the ad or e-mail as 2,500$).
o The scammer may ask potential renters to complete an “application” and return it by e-mail. They will sometimes say that this is because they need to know who they are sending the keys to. It is likely to be used as an additional way to victimize (i.e. identity theft).
o The listing may indicate the rental amount that is often far below market value.
While these are just some of the indicators of potential scams, there are other variations that will use other means to lure potential victims. There are many legitimate rental listings on Craig’s List and other similar sites. Potential renters should heed the warnings posted on Craig’s List itself. These can be found at http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams. Be especially leery of transactions that ask you to use money orders.
CRAIGS LIST SCAMS – Realizing the potential for victimization on its site, Craig’s List has taken the proactive step to include a section on their website that deals with scams. It provides the user guidelines on “how not to become a victim”. Unfortunately, all too often, users of Craig’s List and other similar sites gloss over or do not read these warnings.
1. The Fake Cashier’s Check – You are advertising an item for sale or an apartment for rent. You
receive an inquiry from a potential buyer who wants to purchase/rent and they are going to send
you a cashier’s check (in total/as a deposit). When you receive the check you realize that it is far
more than you expected. The potential purchaser e-mails/calls you asking that you send the excess amount back to them via a money transfer service (i.e. Western Union). The bank will cash the official looking cashier’s check, when it is determined that it is a fraudulent check, the bank comes to you looking for its money. Since you wired the “overpayment” to the potential buyer, you are out that money.
2. Bait Item Scam – You respond to an advertisement for a rental apartment. The listing advertises an apartment in a desirable area, with amenities that seem almost too good to be true. The “owner” says that he is overseas in a church mission helping children. You inquire about the ad and he e-mails you that because he is overseas, he can’t get back to show you this one of a kind gem at an unbelievable price. He will do you a favor and hold the apartment for you if you can wire him a good faith deposit. You wire him a deposit and you wonder why you never hear from him again. You went for the bait and are now a victim of a scam. This scam can be for any high value item. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
NOTE: If you should choose to meet someone from an auction/resale site in person, do so in a public place, in view of a number of other people, and if at night, in a well-lighted area. Consider bringing another adult with you when you meet an unknown party. These considerations are recommended for both “buyers” and “sellers”.
“YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED” SCAMS – Have you received an e-mail or a “pop-up” stating that you have been selected to receive a high value item for “free”? Many variations of this type of scam are circulating the internet and can be in the form of “pop-ups”, unsolicited e-mails, or posting on social media sites. They offer items like the newest I-Phone, I-Pad, or any of a number of highly desirable or newly released items. By clicking on the link contained within the web or e-mail content, you are directed to an “online survey” or to a page where you are asked for personal information to allow the delivery of the item you have “won”. When
completing the fields, you are providing all the information necessary for the criminal to victimize you. As is the case in one recent scam, the cell phone number you have provided in the “survey” may have enrolled you in a “text message service scam” where every text message you send from that point forward will result in exorbitant fees. REMEMBER, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.
**** TELEPHONE CON-ARTISTS - Persons responsible for this scam call and claim that the potential victim has won a prize ranging from I-pads, vehicles, and a number of other highly desirable items. During the telephone call the caller offers to arrange delivery of the item if he/she pays the “tax” or “handling fee” using a credit card. The caller will continue with high pressure tactics and will often state that this is a one-time offer that must be completed during the call. If you are asked to pay in order to claim an item that you have “won” or is “free”, you are likely the potential victim of a scam.
What to do if you are “cold called” about winning a desirable item: o Do not provide any financial or personal information. The scammer can use this information to make you a victim of identity theft.
o Do not provide any credit/debit card information to the caller.
o Do not wire money. The callers might ask you to use a money transfer service (i.e. Western Union) if you are afraid to give a credit card. Using this type of service is just like sending cash, and once you send it there is little chance that you can recoup it.
o Do not trust the caller ID. Advances in technology allow scammers to disguise their area code to make it look like they are calling from a local number. They use this “spoofing” technology to
mask the fact that they are actually calling from anywhere in the world.
Report this information to the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or report the incident to the Suffolk County Police.
DIVERSION SCAM TO COMMIT BURGLARY/THEFT – This type of scam generally targets the elderly, but can also be attempted on any unsuspecting resident. The “diversion burglary” usually involves an attempt to lure a resident from his/her house or apartment by using a ruse. The ruse can involve a wide variety of tactics such as pretending to be with a public utility and requesting that you help them investigate an issue on the property, asking for assistance in “jumping their car” which broke down near the house or using your portable phone, pretending to be conducting a survey and asking you to step outside, and any other scheme to
get the resident outside. After stepping outside, and while your attention is diverted, a second person slips into the residence through an unlocked door or window. Once inside, the thief grabs valuables and leaves before you return to the residence. Sometimes victims are not even aware the theft has occurred until they go to the jewelry box to wear a particular pair of earrings and realize their entire collection of jewelry is missing. During the spring and summer months, beware of strangers that engage you outside of your residence (i.e. while performing yard work) as all they need to do is distract you while their counterpart sneaks in the door that you
likely left unlocked.
TO PROTECT YOURSELF from becoming a victim of this type of scam:
o If someone knocks on your door saying they are with a public utility, ask them for identification, what section or office they work for, and telephone that agency to verify his/her identity before having any further interaction.
o If someone you do not know knocks and asks you to step outside, lock the door and tell them that you are not interested. If they are asking your assistance like the use of your phone, do not open the door and lock it. If you wish to help them ask them for the number, you place the call and relay the message to the person they were looking to contact.
o If something does not feel right, call 911. Try to take note of the person’s physical description, the direction they go when they leave the property, and if you see them get into a car, the description of the car.
IMPORTANCE OF PASSWORD SECURITY EFFORTS Hackers like to brag about their exploits! In today’s “connected” world, their bragging does not occur with the spoken word, but by posting the posting of their exploitation efforts in various locations on the web. A recent report by splashdata.com covered their review of hackers’ online posts and the frequency that the passwords in the “hacked” or compromised accounts appeared in these posts. Below is a listing of the most frequently compromised passwords. If you use one of these passwords, or any other easily “crackable” password, please review the tips listed in the section below. These tips will assist you in locking down your cyber identity and other important information stored on your devices.
INTERNET TIPS - The internet is a great tool for a great number of activities. Legitimate uses of the internet include banking, keeping in touch with friends/family, sharing photographs, learning, gaming, and many other activities. Unfortunately some criminals use this tool to defraud unsuspecting users of the internet. Here are a few tips that you can use to protect yourself online.
o Passwords – Protect yourself by using strong passwords. When creating a password, it is suggested that you consider using the following tactics.
• Length of password – 8 or more characters long
• Make it complex – Use a combination of letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers. For
letters use a combination of upper and lower case letters. Do not use words that can be
found in the dictionary.
• Change passwords often – Establish a set schedule for changing passwords (i.e. once every
• Variety – Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
o An example of a strong password using these techniques: Fh7r#Qp2
• Protect your passwords – Never give your password to anyone. If you think your password
has been compromised, change the password immediately!
o Anti-Virus Protection – The use of an anti-virus program is one of the main components necessary to protect yourself and your information. Without an antivirus program you are vulnerable to infection from a virus/worm that:
• Is hidden in an e-mail/e-mail attachment
• Is “spyware” – this tactic may include keyloggers (to capture user names/passwords),
unknowingly giving another control of your computer, and the ability of the “scammer” to
monitor each and every move you make on the computer.
• Is contained on a corrupt webpage.
o Potential vulnerabilities:
o Identity Theft
o Access to personal information (Usernames/Passwords, account balances, account
o Slowing of computer performance or total incapacitation of the computer/device
• Purchasing anti-virus software – There are a number of vendors offering quality anti-virus
software. The products that these vendors offer contain different features. Review the
options and pick the one that suits your needs best. Be wary of ads on the Internet that offer
downloadable anti-spyware. In some cases, these products may be fake or may contain
spyware or other malware. When purchasing anti-virus software it is best to shop at a store
you trust. Whatever product you choose, it is important to keep the product up-to-date.
Many of the commercially offered products contain a feature to allow for automatic program
updates and system scans.
E-mails - While the use of e-mail is a great tool for e-commerce, keeping in touch with friends, and other legitimate reasons, e-mail is not used without risk. To better protect yourself:
o Do not open an e-mail from someone you do not know.
o Do not reply to SPAM E-MAILS. By responding to a spam e-mail you are letting a
potential scammer know that your e-mail is a valid e-mail address.
o Always use caution when you send an e-mail. Do not include personal information
(i.e. social security numbers, banking account numbers, physical address, etc.).
While the Suffolk County Police Department believes the information contained above is reliable, human or mechanical error remains a possibility. The Suffolk County Police Department does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or sequencing of information contained within the preceding sections. The Suffolk County Police Department shall not be responsible for errors or omissions, or for the use of, or results obtained from the use of, the information contained herein.
The Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) also warns residents of phone scams where the scammer uses a NCPD phone number. The department said that scammers have been able to spoof actual NCPD phone numbers and have used them to appear legitimate when calling residents to try to get them to send money.
NCPD Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the department will NEVER ask for credit card numbers over the phone and will not request pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers. Another scam is directed toward seniors:
Senior Scam Alert
This particular scam occurs when victims are advised by the caller that one of their relatives has been in an accident or has been arrested and is in police custody. The caller further advises that bail must be paid and they arrange for a meeting place for the cash payment. Another way of payment is for the victim to purchase gift cards.
If you are the subject of this type of scam, we recommend that you contact members of your family to ascertain if the individual in question has been injured or arrested.
Police should also be called immediately to report this scam. Illegal scams cost honest citizens thousands of unrecoverable dollars. Residents who receive a call from someone claiming to be a NCPD officer who asks for a wire transfer, prepaid credit card or other form of payment, should hang up and immediately call 911. Once again, should you receive one of these calls you should contact the appropriate agency. Both NCPD and SCPD say if a caller identifies themselves as a police officer hang up and call 911.
If you wish to report a scam in Suffolk County call 631-852-SCAM (7226).
In Nassau County:
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible are asked to contact
Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS (8477). All calls remain anonymous.
The information in this article is taken from SCPDSHIELDS and NCPD Media Advisory.