This week, NY1 told viewers about the police department's ongoing investigation of skimming devices placed on ATM's and possibly Muni Meters. Now, concerns are being raised over another scam as over the last year the NYPD has received more than 600 complaints about prepaid debit card phone scams. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
The police are trying to get the word out: don't get scammed into using prepaid debit cards to pay for utility bills you don't owe.
Officers say scammers are even calling homes pretending to be police to scare people into paying.
"The second call will appear to be from the local police precinct, and the caller will represent him or herself as a member of the New York City Police Department," said Sergeant Raymond Morales of the NYPD Crime Prevention Section. "The caller will state that the initial call they received was legitimate, and that if they don't pay the requested overdue balance, a warrant will be issued for their arrest."
That has the New York City Police Department concerned. Officers have put together a video to alert communities about it.
Quite often, a scammer claims a person owes money on a bill and should go out and buy a prepaid card, such as a green dot money pak, and call back with the card's numbers. Once that information is turned over, the money is stolen off of the card.
"They're targeting our most vulnerable communities, our elderly and our new immigrant communities," said Inspector James Klein of the NYPD Crime Prevention Section.
The NYPD video also talks about scammers pretending to be the IRS and saying if a fee isn't paid, the person will be arrested or deported.
"We've had purchases of only $100," Klein said. "I've had people pay $30,000 in green dots and become victims."
And don't fall for those big discount offers on cable and electricity bills.
"They'll say, 'Listen, if you pay a prepaid amount of money for the year's service, you'll get a very discounted rate,' usually between 50 and 60 percent,'" Klein said. "And they fall victim to this."
Con Edison says scammers often manipulate phone numbers to make it appear that the call is from a company.
"And saying that you did not respond to a notice that your meter needs to be exchanged. Therefore, you have to provide a deposit to Con Edison via green dot money card," said Allan Drury, a Con Edison spokesperson.
If you get a unsolicited call from anyone asking you to pay them with a prepaid card, simply hang up the phone and call the police to let them know about it.