Police & Fire

West Orange Police: Fraud and Identity Thefts Inflict West Orange Residents

WEST ORANGE, NJ — A German Shepherd puppy that never arrived, a multi-swiped card by a receptionist at a fertility office, and a scam involving Apple users were among the intriguing aspects of fraud crimes throughout West Orange in September.

Fraud incidents this past month, according to West Orange police reports, include:  

1. A West Orange resident became a victim of fraud when she contacted the police after being contacted by a person “purporting to be a representative of Easy Tech computer service.” The person advised the victim that her laptop was infected with a virus, and she needed to pay $299 to get it removed. The victim provided the person with her Bank of America checking account information, at which time the actor of the fraud alleged he “inadvertently deposited extra funds into her account and needed them back.” He instructed her to wire over the funds using Western Union. She wired $1,300 to him, and another $1,300 to another person.

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She was called again by the actor, who said there was another transaction error that required her to send more money. This time she was to wire $5,900 to a company in Brooklyn, NY. After the transactions, she became suspicious of the situation and refused to send any more money. She stopped answering her phone. She called Bank of America, and had her accounts closed, flagged and her bankcards reissued. The victim was advised to contact the credit bureaus to ensure no other fraudulent activity has occurred. The police provided her with a National Crime Information Center Identity Theft File packet, which she needed to complete and return.

2. A West Orange resident reported that some unknown actor(s) had opened fraudulent accounts at TD Bank and Chase Bank using her information. She told police that on May 25, she received two letters from Chase Bank concerning her accounts and requesting her Social Security number and W-9 forms. At this time, she contacted Chase via email and explained the situation. She filed a report with their fraud department. On June 22, she was notified by Chase that her accounts were blocked and would be closed.

On July 7, she followed up with Chase by speaking to the Livingston branch manager, who told her that the above-mentioned accounts do contain her name and address. They did not contain information about her driver’s license or Social Security number. The account information had her wrong age. She told the police that she received a statement on Sept. 5 requesting a reimbursement for $3,988.43 from Chase.

She then confirmed that one of the accounts had been closed, and another one has been listed as restricted. The victim then told the reporting officer that on July 6 she received a letter from TD Bank notifying her that an account was overdrawn. This account was opened with her name and address, but had a false middle name and wrong birthdate. She contacted TD Bank on July 13 to tell the bank that the account “looks like it was opened by a foreigner.”

When she reported this to the police, the victim had not received any further communication from either bank. She was advised to monitor her credit through the three major credit bureaus. She completed a WOPD ID theft packet.

3. An officer responded to a report of a possible ID theft perpetrated on a victim, who told police that on June 17 he noticed that a purchase of $620.43 was made to a VIP Electronics on his Bank of America credit card. He was refunded for this amount, and closed this account. On July 28, he noticed a purchase of $899 to Fuzion in Brooklyn, NY on his Capital One credit card. He closed the account and was issued a new card. Before he got a chance to activate the new card, he noticed additional charges had appeared on that statement for Avis Rent a Car and AMC Online. He was refunded those amounts, and was closely monitoring the account.  

On Sept. 5, he was notified by Home Depot that there was a purchase of $854 made on his online profile for a Roomba vacuum. He was told by Home Depot customer service that the payment could not be stopped because the American Express card being used was not listed under his name and billing address. He found out that there is an additional Amex credit card listed under his account, as well as two additional billing addresses. A secondary address on one of the accounts is in Rockaway, NJ, which is where the Roomba vacuum was being shipped.

While he was doing his own Internet search investigation, he noted the possible involvement of a real estate brokerage agency in New Jersey, which is the agency that bought his home. According to the report, the victim fears that more of his information is at risk. Photocopies of his Home Depot profile information, his Internet search, and his Capital One credit card statement were secured by police.

4. A victim of fraud came reported that she had wired $400 on Aug. 16 through Western Union to a company in Texas to purchase a German Shepherd puppy that she has not received. She was assured that her puppy would be transported by airline by Aug. 16. When she did not receive the animal, she contacted the company, which had advertised the sale via Facebook. She was told by a woman at the company that the company attempted to send the puppy, but the airline seized the animal due to medical issues. The victim was told to wire an additional $400 for vaccines and other medical treatments.

At the time of the report, the victim blocked all communications with company selling canines. She attempted to contact numerous airlines to inquire about the animal, but was met with negative results. Western Union has filed a fraud claim.

5. A victim reported a theft by deception incident in which she went to RMANJ, a fertility office located on Prospect Avenue, and used her TD Bank card for a co-pay of $50. She noticed the receptionist at the office swiped her card multiple times. When asked for the reason, the receptionist told her it was due to a glitch in the system. Later in the day, the victim noticed that $834 was charged to her bankcard that was used at RMANJ.

The victim called TD Bank and was informed the bank could not freeze her account at that at time. She called TD Bank again a few days later when $169 was charged to her bankcard. The account was frozen after a total of $1,013.40 was fraudulently charged to her account.

The victim then checked her bank statement, which showed the transactions being authorized by someone in Union, NJ. The charges were made in two separate convenience stores in Union and West Orange. The victim called RMANJ on the day of the police report. She provided the office with a Facebook photo of the receptionist, who was not working that day. The victim was advised by the reporting officer to monitor her bank accounts.

6. A victim of identity theft reported that she received an email from Apple stating that there was an auto-renewal payment of $102.85 for a Pandora radio. The email further stated that if she wished to refund the amount, she would have to click on the link that takes her to an external website. Upon clicking the link, the website asked her for her name, address, and Social Security number. She sent them the requested information.

Later in the day, the victim was speaking to a friend who told her that the email was a scam that is sent out to many Apple users. The victim contacted the IRS and other appropriate agencies to report the incident. She told the police that upon clicking on the email claiming to be Apple, the email that appeared was info@edmc.edu. The victim was given an ID theft packet to fill out and return.

7. A victim of identity theft reported that he noticed an unauthorized charge to his Barclay Mastercard. He told police that he had received two large boxes via UPS at his residence that he did not order the day before. He opened the packages, which contained Delta faucets and fixtures. They were purchased through Wayfair.com via the Internet using his personal information and his Barclay credit card. The total amount of the purchase was $2289.26

The victim then investigated further and found that a purchase of $2616.12 was made through buildcharge.com for some type of fencing material. The Barclay Mastercard company refunded this amount to his account before the victim had even contacted them.

The victim returned the faucets and fixtures after contacting UPS. He was given a WOPD identity theft packet. At this time, there were no other fraudulent charges made to any of his other accounts. 

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