BY ANTHONY MEDINA
The 102nd Precinct warned Woodhaven residents during a Woodhaven Block Association meeting on Saturday about tax scams over the phone and an increase of stolen cars in the area.
“The IRS would not be asking for immediate payment over the phone, especially if you don’t have an open case already,” said Jose Severino, the community affairs officer for the 102nd Precinct. “There are people being scammed for thousands of dollars for simply picking up the phone.”
During the meeting—which was held at the United Church of Christ on Woodhaven Boulevard at 91st Street—Severino stressed that residents should not reveal personal financial information over the phone. Scammers are going to great lengths to contact residents and claim that they owe past-due taxes and need to process immediate payment over the phone, Severino said.
Scammers often request specific methods of payments, such as iTunes cards and Green Dot prepaid gift cards, Severino said. The scammer then uses the iTunes cards to purchase applications, music and movies through the Apple Store. Green Dot prepaid cards can be purchased in pharmacies and allow for easy access to money. Both companies have released statements warning users of gift-card scams.
Severino said that the best way to combat fraud is to hang up the phone if a resident does not recognize a caller.
Severino updated Woodhaven residents on other criminal activity in the neighborhood. He noted that 10 cars had been stolen in Woodhaven in the past 28-day period.
Additionally, the number of thefts was five times higher, compared to the amount of incidents during the same period last year.
The easiest way to prevent car theft is to avoid leaving the car running, according to Severino. He urged residents to practice caution and not leave their car keys in the ignition.
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