Police warn New Hyde Park residents about phone scams

Police warn New Hyde Park residents about phone scams
Nassau County police officers warned residents about phone scams in the area. (Photo by Tom McCarthy)

Members of the Nassau County Police Department’s 3rd Precinct are asking New Hyde Park residents, particularly the elderly, to be aware of phone scams in the area.

During last Thursday’s board of trustees meeting, Commanding Officer Inspector Robert Musetich and Officers Jesse Cooper and Michael Costanzo handed out fliers alerting residents to phone scams in Nassau County as they fielded questions and concerns.

“One of the biggest things as far as crimes that we see are scams,” Musetich said. “People are doing scams over the phone.”

The flier reads, “Nassau County residents are being financially targeted by individuals who are making false statements on the phone.” The police officers said the goal of these scammers is to get an individual to send them money.

“The quickest response is 911,” said Cooper, who urged recipients of scam calls to alert the police.

Cooper said the scammers prey on and mislead elderly citizens in the community due to their lack of knowledge about technology.

“I can type in anybody’s name that’s here and find out, for free, who your neighbors are, who you’re family members might be and I can pretend to be those family members,” he said.

Cooper said some of the fake scenarios that the scammers will try are claiming that a family member might be kidnapped or arrested, requesting a fine from government agencies like the IRS, posing as utility companies seeking payments or telling the recipient she has won a prize.

“We’re starting to see that the scammers will send a cab to the house to pick them up to take them to the bank,” Cooper said. All the instructions given to the cab driver were given by the unidentified scammer. The officers said that they do not suspect that the cab driver was in on the scam.

The officers said legitimate agencies and companies would never ask a person to send money through gift cards, Green Dot MoneyPak, MoneyGram, or Western Union. One resident said he received a call that his grandson was in jail. The catch was that he didn’t even have a grandson.

“One of the big red flags with the scams is how they get the money from you,” Cooper said. He said that all residents need to be aware and call 911 if they receive a suspicious call even if  it is supposedly coming from someone they know well.

“Most nights the phone rings at home and I cringe,” Deputy Mayor Donna Squicciarino said, “because I’m like ‘who’s calling now.’ It’s always a scam or somebody telling you something these days.”

Another scam that has occurred in the community is what Musetich called “mail fishing.” This is when thieves go into a public mailbox, get their hands on a check and chemically alter the signature on a check to cash it for themselves.

“If you’re going to mail a check, go inside the post office,” Musetich said.

The police officers also spoke about projects in the area affecting traffic.

Musetich said a lot of traffic signs and regulations have been ignored as work is being done on the LIRR’s Third Track project from Floral Park to Hicksville in many villages. He said most of the development is in his precinct.

“The signage can be a little bit better, but that’s on the construction companies,” the inspector said.  He told Mayor Lawrence Montreuil that he plans on talking to the Third Track developers and suggesting materials such as flag-wavers to control traffic during rush hour and better signage to avoid accidents.

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