By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The 13th Precinct is warning residents about a new influx of phone scams after a local woman was conned out of $30,000 when she got a call from who she thought was the police.
Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, told people attending a meeting held by the precinct’s Community Council last Tuesday that the woman got a call from what she thought was the 81st precinct. The person calling her told her there was a warrant for her arrest and demanded payment in iTunes cards.
“There is an 81st Precinct but the police are never going to ask you for iTunes cards,” Timoney said. He noted that the victim checked on the number she got the call from and it actually was the number for that precinct, leading her to believe the caller.
“I don’t know how the technology works but the number that showed up was for that precinct, even though it wasn’t actually the precinct calling her,” he said. “But she never called back and asked anyone to verify what she had been told and now her whole life savings is gone.”
Timoney didn’t specify where exactly the woman lived, but said she was a recent college graduate.
The inspector added that there is also usually an increase in scams at this time of year because of the holiday shopping season and he warned residents to be careful about where they submit their credit card information online.
Mail fishing scams have slowed down in the precinct since the end of the summer, he said, but other mail-related scams have been reported recently. Community Council member and Stuyvesant Town resident Pat Sallin and another resident of Stuy Town both said at the meeting that they received emails that looked to be from the Post Office saying that their mail had been stopped.
However, it turned out the message was not from the US Postal Service and was a ploy to steal credit card numbers from unsuspecting New Yorkers. Fortunately, Sallin and her neighbor weren’t fooled.
In other crime-related news, Timoney said that crime has been down in the precinct this year by 10.6 percent, though there was an increase in crime for the last month. He attributed the spike to a string of recent motorcycle thefts, with grand larceny and robbery also on the rise. He noted that the increase in burglaries was mainly at commercial locations, which apparently is an easily fixable problem.
“One incident on Fifth Avenue was at a place with a 24-hour doorman,” he said. “Video showed (the suspects) signing into the location and they come down 20 minutes later looking like Santa Claus with a suitcase full of 35 computers. The doorman no longer works there.”