Phones scammers targeting New Yorkers are getting more sophisticated than ever, pols warned.
The latest scam threatens victims with arrest for unpaid taxes or utility fees, unless a payment is made through a debit card easily purchased at local stores. The calls are disguised to appear on caller ID screens as numbers belonging to the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] or National Grid.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and State Senator Marty Golden are urging constituents to remain vigilant against the evolving threat of telephone scams.
“It’s scary to think about the lengths to which these people will go to make a dollar,” said Malliotakis. “The majority of their victims are the elderly and the homebound, some of the most vulnerable people in society. As most of the calls are coming from outside the country, the most effective way to put an end to this fraud is to make it less lucrative by getting the word out that these calls are not authentic. Anyone who receives such a call should contact their local police precinct to check the veracity of what’s being asked of them.”
In the elaborate scheme, the con artist tells a potential victim that he or she owes money to the agency or company, and if payment is not made immediately, additional fines will be assessed. If the scammer claims to be from the IRS, he/she might tell victims that taxes are owed and if they are payed, no one will be arrested. If the perpetrator claims to be from National Grid, he or she might tell the victim that a payment is past due and threaten to turn services off immediately.
Just this past Sunday, a National Grid impersonator was knocking on doors in southwest Brooklyn and was persistent in asking to read the meter, until finally fleeing, said Golden. Calls to National Grid confirmed they do not read meters on Sunday.