Nutley Police are warning residents not to fall victim to a popular fraud in which an Essex County Resident was taken for thousands of dollars. Chief Thomas Strumolo warns that spoofing leads residents to believe the person on the other end of the phone line pretends to be someone other than who they actually are. The phone number that appears on your caller ID may be a friend, or a loved one. In an isolated incident in a neighboring town, a caller reported to be with the FBI and their car had been linked to crimes the caller told the victim to go to stores and buy gift cards and eventually took the victim for over 3,000. The actor then used their local police department’s number leading the victim to believe the call was official.
Chief Strumolo said that the scam is always different and unique, however the end game remains the same. That is to have you send personal information, money, gift cards, or wire transfers somewhere. He noted that creativeness can mislead almost anyone. When you initially receive a call and answer the phone (and the number has been spoofed) believing it is a person you know or a familiar agency, immediately lowers your guard. That is when the caller deploys their scam.
In most cases, the caller uses a little bit of personal identifiers obtained through the internet, such as their name, or a family members name, leading you (the victim) to believe they are who they say they are.
It is common that the scammer uses a sense of urgency when speaking with you. Chief Strumolo noted that emotion sometimes causes us not to think rationally. When the caller says that a loved one had been injured, arrested, in a car accident or that you are subject to arrest, penalties by the IRS etc, can often cloud our judgement, and comply with their demands.
It is unreasonable for any Police or Federal Agency to ask for gift cards, yet this seems to be one of the most prevalent forms of payment.
If you receive a call and it is out of the ordinary, please contact a family member or police before engaging in any type of transaction. Do not provide additional information, and never send money to anyone without absolute certainty who is receiving payment. Should you have any questions or concerns contact police immediately.
Fraud – Headquarters received a walk in report regarding fraud. The victim stated they noticed two (2) fraudulent transactions on their bank account. One transaction was for the amount of $4,235.00, and another transaction was for the amount of $4,885.00. The financial institution was advised, froze the account, and their fraud department will be looking into the charges. The only information provided was that one of the transactions was found to have taken place in New York after 5pm. The victim was advised of how to obtain a copy of the report for their records.
Fraud – Headquarters received a walk in report regarding Identity Theft. The victim stated that an actor/s used their personal information to open a credit card account. They received a call from the credit card company that they had a $500.00 balance from purchases made in Florida. The victim informed them that they did not open up the account and were not in Florida. The account was closed and they were advised to file a Police report regarding the incident. Officers advised the victim of the Identity Theft Victim database that they chose to enter. Nothing further.
Noise Complaint – Passaic Avenue – A second complaint came in regarding excessive noise to which Officers responded and could hear the music volume down the street upon approaching the establishment. Due to issuing a warning on a previous call, the owner was issued a summons for Township Ordinance for Noise. Nothing further.
Injury- Franklin Ave Police and EMS responded to Franklin Ave near Vreeland in response to a 59 y/o woman who had fallen and injured herself. She reportedly tripped over a raised sidewalk slab, causing a laceration to her head. She was transported to an area hospital for possible stitches.
Resident believes intruder in home- Montclair Ave- Nutley police received a call from the New Jersey State Police advising that they received a call from a resident claiming someone was in her home and that she was locked in her bedroom closet. When Nutley Police arrived, they found the woman who believed she heard noises in the home. Officers searched the home but were unable to locate any intruder. Police checked all windows, doors, and nothing appeared to be disturbed.
Welfare- Hillside Ave- Nutley Police Officer Brandon Castro observed a disabled vehicle with its windows down in the pouring rain parked on Hillside Ave with a man soaked inside. A welfare check found the 98-year-old man drenched with water and disorientated. The officer summoned medical assistance and transported the man to an area hospital for evaluation. The vehicle impounded for safekeeping.
Fraud Attempt – Cedar St – Following a message from the Chief Nutley Police took a report from a Cedar St resident that reported what she believed to be scam on Instagram. She reported that the account told her that she had won a prize and would need to purchase an Amazon Gift Card. Fully aware that this may be a scam, she sent a copy of an old gift card and deleted the account. She reported that she is now receiving numerous texts from a number alleging to be the FBI. Police advised her to block the caller.
Dispute over parking space- Franklin Ave. Police responded to a Franklin Ave lot when two parties were engaged in a verbal dispute over a parking space. It appears the two were at odds regarding who had rights to the open space. The caller contacted police via 911 and stated that after pulling into the spot, an irate woman argued that she had been waiting for this spot to open for quite some time. The woman then apologized to police stating she was frustrated about losing the spot and left after calming down.
Harassment- Ridge Rd. Police responded to a residential home on Ridge Rd in response to the caller being harassed by unknown parties. The victim reported seeing a car pull in front of their home and a party exit wearing a Halloween mask walking towards their home. When he alerted them through a window they fled in a motor vehicle. No damage was done, however the caller reported similar incidents occurring in the past.