110th Precinct Wants A Scam-Free Summer

Staff Writer

Scam artists continue to work on all fronts in Queens.

At Monday’s 110th Precinct Community Council meeting, Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson spoke about the various scams that Queens residents should protect themselves against.

The bulk of the precinct’s work in combating scammers is an awareness campaign, so Leyson’s talk on Monday represented a final push before the Community Council’s summer break.

ATM skimmer devices have been distressing Queens for months. These devices – affixed to ATMs by scam artists – pull information from cards while a camera records customers as they type their PINs.

No such devices have been discovered in the 110th Precinct, although they have popped up in nearby Woodside and Elmhurst.

To avoid losing information to these devices, Leyson advised covering the keypad when typing in a PIN, and avoiding cash machines in stores.

Resident Nilda Janacek was recently the victim of credit card duplication. Early this month, she received a call from Citibank informing her that someone had used her credit card number at Target, but was unable to produce the card’s security code.

“I got nervous, I said, ‘how did this happen?’” Janacek recalled. “I was frantic.”

She said she is not sure how her card was duplicated, but guessed that it may have occurred when she was online shopping.

Ultimately, Janacek’s money was returned. Leyson said that the consequences for some are much worse. He has known victims of phone scams – in which a scammer dials up random numbers, claiming to call from the IRS and demanding payment – to lose as much as $30,000.

Leyson also noted, “in the summer, [scam artists] will be walking around.”

Home improvement scams are the most common, Leyson said. In this instance, a scammer will pretend to be a contractor, claiming to have noticed some problems with a resident’s home, and ask for the resident’s signature to provide a quote.

“You didn’t solicit them, don’t talk to them,” Leyson said. “If it’s too good to be true, it is.”

Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, or @JNStrawbridge.