Nov. 21, 2016 By Domenick Rafter
Crime is down in the 112th Precinct, but grand larcenies are up in both the past month and on the year due to identity theft and scams.
Scam artists preying on citizens, especially the elderly, has been a top NYPD concern for several years now and have been driving grand larceny rates up in precincts all over the borough, according to Chief Juanita Holmes, commander of Patrol Borough Queens North.
“It’s a problem we are seeing across the city,” Holmes said at Wednesday’s meeting of the 112th Precinct Community Council.
Overall crime is down in the 112th Precinct, which historically has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Major crimes were down six percent year to date when compared to 2015 and forty percent during the second week of November when compared to the same week last year.
Burglaries, car thefts and felony assaults were down on the year and though there is a slight uptick in robberies, the command was doing well with those crimes in the past month – down from 5 robberies last year to only 2 this year since early October. But grand larcenies are up 11 percent year to date.
“We’re doing pretty well, but what’s driving crime in this precinct is grand larcenies,” said Captain Robert Ramos, commander of the 112th Precinct, at Wednesday’s meeting. “That’s largely due to ID theft and scammers.”
The most recent scam occurred in the precinct command on Nov. 8, Ramos said, when a resident received a phone call where the caller claimed to be from the U.S. Marshall’s office. The victim was scammed out of $47,000.
He said scammers often call claiming to be from government agencies, threatening the victim with arrest until they give up money. Oftentimes, the scammers ask to be paid in gift cards.
“The IRS, government agencies, do not take gift cards as payment,” said 112th Precinct Crime Prevention Officer Alexander Avila, who gave tips on how to avoid identity theft and scammers at Wednesday’s meeting. ”That is an obvious sign of a scam.”
In other cases, callers claim a family member of the victim had been in an accident and needs money, or the caller threatens to shut off electricity or water to the victim’s home. They will then demand the victim buy gift cards – often a Green Dot card – and give them to number on the card to use.
Ramos added that fraudsters will seek to get anything from their victims.
“They’ll take whatever they can get,” he said.
In other cases, the scammers ask the victim for their social security number, which they then use to attempt to open credit cards or get loans in the victim’s name.
“Do not give your social security number out to anyone who calls or emails you unsolicited,” Ramos told the audience.