Police & Fire

West Orange Police Respond to Four Cases of Identity Theft/Fraud

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Four cases of identity theft and/or fraud were reported to the West Orange police toward the end of May, according to police reports.

1. A victim of identity theft received a letter from a debt collector called Certegy. Upon reading the letter, it was brought to the victim’s attention that some unknown individual obtained his personal information. According to the letter, this individual opened an online account and subsequently deposited $150 into it.

The online site where the account was opened is a virtual casino that allows a user to establish this account for gambling purposes. The victim called the website’s phone number immediately, and spoke to a representative of the company.

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The representative confirmed that on April 28 some unknown individual did open an online account using the victim’s information, and that the aforementioned sum of money was deposited into it. The victim explained that he did not open the account nor did he authorize anyone to do so. The representative told him that the matter would be investigated through the proper channels.

On May 6, the victim received a second attempt to collect the debt from Complete Payment Received Services Inc. for the same account. This time, a representative for the agency stated that the company is affiliated with the first debt collection agency. The victim again stated that he did not open the account and was instructed to contact the website’s phone number once again.

The victim said that he was asked for his account information on more than one occasion while in correspondence with the website and debt collectors. He refused to give them this information.

He then received an email from an individual who only identified himself as “Omar R.” This individual stated that he was a customer service representative for the online gaming site.

Omar wrote in the email that the account opened with the victim’s information had been closed. While at headquarters, the victim was given a WOPD Identity Theft Packet, and he was advised to contact his bank to have both his personal and business accounts closed.

2. Police responded to a reported fraud incident on May 17 for a victim residing on Hillside Avenue. The victim told police that she received a phone call from an unknown male suspect representing a warranty company for a 2012 Ford Escape allegedly registered to the victim. She does not own a Ford Escape, according to police.

The victim reported that the suspect recited to her personal information about herself. This included her address, Social Security number, and birthdate. The victim advised the suspect that she was contacting the police and hung up the call.

The officer attempted to call the phone number on the victim’s caller ID, and he heard a recording that the number was not in service. A check of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) VIN # revealed that the vehicle is a 2012 Ford Escape. However, no other information was available.

Police said the victim was advised to monitor her credit report and all other financial accounts.

3. Police responded to a report of identity theft on May 18 at an animal hospital in town. The victim, who is a veterinary doctor, stated that when she checked her CitiBank credit card statement earlier in the day, she observed a series of unfamiliar purchases taking place from April 19 to May 1.

According to the police report, she further observed that an airline ticket was purchased on the card on April 20 by a former employee of the animal hospital whose employment had been terminated as of May 2. The victim said that this employee was fired due to a previous incident of theft.

The victim explained that she routinely gives her credit card to employees to purchase items and supplies for the animal hospital. However, at the time of the fraudulent purchases, she was in sole possession of the card.

According to police, it was noted that a photocopy of the card was previously available for employees at the front desk. The victim believes that the suspect acquired the credit card information from the photocopy prior to her termination.

The victim contacted her Citibank fraud department, which is launching an internal investigation into the purchases made on the card and through PayPal. The victim has since frozen the credit card and associated accounts and police provided her with an ID theft packet.

4. A fraud victim told police on May 17 that she used an application called LET GO to sell her Apple MacBook Pro 2012. She asked $500 for the computer.

She was then contacted by the suspect, who stated she would purchase the laptop. The victim shipped the laptop on May 17 through United Parcel Service, without first receiving funds for the purchase.

On May 18, the victim said she was contacted by PayPal, which stated that it needed an additional $100 to complete this transaction. Later in the day, according to the report, the victim sent a MoneyGram for this amount.

The victim received a similar call the next day and ultimately sent an additional $150 MoneyGram to PayPal, according to police. On May 20, the victim was contacted by the suspect, who asked her to send an additional $100 to help her sister. The victim sent the additional $100 MoneyGram to the suspect.

On this date, the victim contacted PayPal, and was notified that no transactions had taken place through their site. She was told that this must be a fraudulent site asking for funds. The victim then contacted UPS to stop her laptop from being shipped to the suspect. None of the victim’s personal information was compromised during these transactions, according to police. 

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