NUTLEY, NJ - 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.