April 20, 2024
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Beware of Green Dot Money Scams and Other Frauds

In the last few weeks, a number of separate incidents in Bergen County have been brought to JLBC’s attention as threats to the community in term of dishonesty and misrepresentation.

We reported in a recent edition that Mendel Unger of Fillerup Kosher Wines on West Englewood Avenue in Teaneck fell victim to a scam in which someone fraudulently represented the PSE&G gas and electric company, threatening him with turning off his store’s electricity on Erev Simchas Torah if he did not pay up immediately. He lost $500.

The Bergenfield Police Department recently warned the community that another scam is being perpetrated on residents. In the “IRS Telephone Scam” callers are claiming to be employees of the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), stating that back taxes are owed, and if not paid in full, they will be arrested. The caller then advises that the victim immediately purchase either a Green Dot Money card or other prepaid card and then make a return telephone call to provide the security code on the back of the card, enabling the scammer to utilize the funds on the card.

In both cases the scammers called from a number that appeared to be legitimate. According to the Bergenfield Police Department, the IRS scammers are “using an app which will display the telephone number of the Bergenfield Police Department,” and in the case of the PSE&G scam, that phone number.

Another scam that has recently been perpetrated in the Bergen County area involves the “Grandparent” scam. A caller has made multiple calls to elderly victims claiming to be a grandson who has been arrested for DWI in Los Angeles and/or New York City. The scammer attempts to get the victim to wire money to bail him out of jail. An incident of this scam occurred in Paramus.

The Bergenfield Police department advised residents to distrust anyone you don’t know who asks you to send anything via Western Union, Green Dot Money, or any other money-wiring or prepaid-card service, or to accept delivery of packages.

The final and a particularly disturbing incident that befell our community in recent days was perpetrated by someone who came to the door of a private home asking for tzedakah. Even though the person did not have a teudah (a certificate of permission to collect tzedakah), the homeowner wrote a check to the individual for $18. According to David Schild, one of the administrators of the Teaneck/Bergenfield Tzedakah Committee, the person then changed the amount of the check to $1800 and cashed it.

As always, JLBC urges the community to be aware of scams and to be suspicious of people on the phone or in person whom you don’t know. For more information on how the Teaneck Bergenfield Tzedakah Committee vets candidates, see page 26 in this issue.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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