Don’t get duped by fake cops, ‘relative in trouble’ and IRS phone scams

They try to steal your identity or gain access to your credit cards and bank accounts.

Individuals identifying themselves as representatives of various businesses, organizations or agencies have been committing thefts against residents of Bayonne.

Mayor Jimmy Davis and Police Chief Drew Sisk are advising residents to be aware of the fraudulent activity.

One typical tactic is for a perpetrator to call an unsuspecting resident and inform that person to make an immediate payment to the caller or face some sort of consequence.

These numbers are generally displayed on caller ID’s as “Private” or “Unavailable” or the caller utilizes software which displays a fraudulent caller ID number or agency or organization name.

Some common tactics:
Utility, Phone or Cable/Satellite Company Seeking Overdue Bill: In this scam, a caller informs a resident that they have an overdue bill and must make immediate payment to the caller’s “company” or face suspension of their service.

I.R.S. Seeking Back Taxes: The caller claims to be a representative of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), insisting the resident owes back taxes that must be immediately paid, or the resident can expect a warrant for their arrest.

Law Enforcement Seeking Bail or Fine Money for an Arrested Family Member: This offense is carried out by the caller who states that he/she is from law enforcement and that a member of the resident’s family has been arrested. They insist that immediate bail payment or to satisfy a fine was required to secure the family member’s release from custody. These type of calls are often targeted at elderly family members late at night or early morning.

Kidnapped Family Member: The Bayonne Police Department has even investigated incidents in which the caller informed a resident that a family member was kidnapped and must make immediate payment to secure that family member’s release. This scam can be exposed by calling or otherwise contacting the family member to verify his or her safety.

Police Charities Seeking Donations: Here, the caller claims to be a representative of a charity seeking money for police officers killed or injured in the line of duty or their families or to support other “charitable work” of the organization. While this scenario doesn’t pose a threat or coercion, it is important to note that police agencies, the Bayonne Police Department included, their unions and other fraternal organizations do not seek donations in this manner.

In nearly all of these instances, the caller instructs the resident to proceed to a nearby store (CVS, 7-11, Walmart), where they instruct the victim (who often remains on the phone) to purchase gift cards in an amount predetermined by the caller.

The caller then instructs the resident to provide the caller with the pin or serial number located on the back of the gift cards. Once these numbers are in the caller’s possession, the caller ends the call and the cash value of the card is almost immediately wiped out by the perpetrator, with the physical card no longer having any value.

Legitimate businesses do not conduct business in this manner. If any resident receives this type of phone call, they should obtain as much information from the caller as possible then discontinue the call. Should you wish to verify or dispel the call’s authenticity, call the official number of the business, organization or agency. DO NOT obtain the phone number from the caller, since the caller can easily provide the phone number of a cohort, who will simply verify the original caller’s claim or request.

The Bayonne Police Department reminds residents to remain alert and exercise appropriate caution when dealing with any type of phone solicitation. In the event you are subject to one of these scams, whether you suffer any monetary loss or not, contact the Bayonne Police Communications Center at (201) 858-6900 to report the incident, call 911 or go to Police Headquarters, 630 Avenue C.