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Officials warn of phone scams targeting Long Islanders

01/05/2019 5:55 AM |

Imagine receiving this phone call: “…You will be taken into custody by local cops, as there are more serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you.”

Phone scams unfold in several different ways. A person states they work for a utility company and threatens to shut off the utility if payment is not immediately made. A victim is asked to wire money because a family member has been arrested, or is in jail. A government agency, such as the IRS, threatens to arrest a victim if they don’t make a payment.

Suffolk County officials held a press conference Friday to warn residents of ongoing scams, which often target the elderly.

“With the sophistication of technology, we’ve seen a steady increase in telephone and digital scams which often go ignored or unreported,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “But for the victims, it can mean the difference between retirement and bankruptcy.”

Officials reminded residents that the IRS does not call to demand immediate payments, but generally send a bill as a first communication.

If there are doubts about the legitimacy of a call from a utility company or regarding a relative, officials advised residents to contact the business directly, or verify the whereabouts of a family member, and never give financial or personal information during the calls.

“It is sad how often people fall prey to these types of scams,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart in a statement.

“Once a person is bilked out of money, it is a challenge for the department to locate a suspect, who is often out of state, and recoup the money for a victim. The department wants the public to educate themselves so that people will stop giving their hard-earned money to scammers.”

Those who believe that they may be a victim of a scam are asked to contact the police immediately on their non-emergency line by dialing 631-852-COPS.

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