100th Precinct Community Council December Meeting Recap

By Katie McFadden

The December 100th Precinct Community Council meeting ended with updates from the Precinct, along with a focus on the latest scams going around.

On Wednesday, December 27, the Council ended the year with a meeting on Zoom. 100th Precinct Community Council President Kathy Heavey started off the meeting thanking all who helped make the Council’s movie night with Santa a success. She then introduced some of the staff from the Banking Relations Department of Ridgewood Bank, including Brian Tynan who spoke about some common scams banks see and how to prevent them.

“No matter where you live, age, race, nationality, gender, you can certainty fall victim to any one of these scams,” Tynan said before naming some of them. The main one is identity theft, where a scammer will use someone’s personal identifying information like names, addresses, social security numbers and bank accounts to open credit cards in someone’s name or access bank accounts. For prevention, Tynan recommended setting up mobile alerts, so you get notifications any time your bank account is accessed to stay on top of things.

Another big one is charity scams in which organizations will pop up after a natural disaster somewhere in the world and will seek donations. “They pop up overnight and these scammers seek donations for organization that do little to no work for the cause,” he said. He advised that before donating, do your research on the organization and speak with friends or family for advice.

Another is government check scams where government agencies like the IRS, board of elections, etc., will try to ask for personal information or charge fake fees to expedite a stimulus or grant check. He advised that these agencies will never attempt to contact someone by social media, text or email, and said the real agencies will contact you by mail. The same goes for the FDIC.

Another is grandparent/ military scams where an individual will impersonate someone from the armed forces and contact a grandparent saying they’re sick or kidnapped or need help leaving the country and will need you to wire funds. He said this is becoming more prevalent as the war between Israel and Gaza continues. “People try to extort funds from the elderly, and they fall victim to it more often than you think,” he said. He said to be alert of these scams and note that any military email would end in .mil instead of .com, .ca, .co, etc.

Tynan said when it comes to any correspondence from banks, agencies of “family,” look out for grammatical errors and things that don’t make sense as a lot of these frauds come from overseas people who don’t have a good handle of the English language. And when it comes to bank fraud, banks will never reach out to someone by social media.

For businesses, Tynan said they’ve seen at least four instances of stolen checks, where someone working for the postal service or a delivery service may steal a check made out to a company, will spoof the business and open an account in the name on that check, and cash it. Banks look out for things like this, including red flags such as a check being dated older than the opening of the business.

Related to this, Heavey brought up the issue of check washing, which is happening a lot in Rockaway, with checks being stolen from the mail, washed and then deposited for higher amounts to thieves. Tynan said, “Bad guys are smart people.” He advised that instead of writing checks, people should turn to online payments and set up an automatic payment system for bills through their banks. If someone must write a check, he suggests dropping it off right at the post office, or in a mailbox right before the pickup time instead of leaving things in mailboxes overnight, when most mail fishing happens. Local resident Eugene Falik also suggested using a gel pen to write checks, as they are not as easy to wash as other pen inks.

In general, Tynan said when it comes to transactions, it’s smarter to use a credit card rather than a debit card as its easier to dispute a credit transaction than something on a debit card, which is connected directly to your bank account. He also said that the elderly tend to be the people that scammers focus on most, and encourages elderly folks to consult their family, friends or banks if they feel that something isn’t right with their accounts.

Neighborhood Coordination Officer Victor Boamah spoke next but didn’t have any announcements, so he used his time to thank everyone that has supported the precinct with the many community events that the NCOs have helped set up this year. “Your support means so much,” Officer Boamah said.

Commanding Officer of the 100th Precinct, Captain Carol Hamilton, provided some crime updates. But first she thanked the community for their support since she arrived at the precinct in June. “I was in Brownsville for 2.5 years and this is so different, and I appreciate it,” she said. For the 28-day period, she said there were 29 crimes versus 28 last year, a nearly 4% increase.

She said the major issue is grand larceny auto cases, in which cars are being stolen or attempts are made. She said Hyundai Elentras and Senatas seem to be the main target. At least six happened over the last month on different days, with most occurring in Sector Adam between Beach 73rd and Beach 81st on Shore Front Parkway and Rockaway Beach Blvd. The 100th is working with the 101st Precinct to try to find the suspects stealing these vehicles.

It is advised to use anti-theft lock clubs or to put Apple Air Tags tracking devices in your vehicle. Hamilton mentioned an incident in which a group of teens stole a car from someone in the 75th Precinct and the car had an Air Tag and was tracked to a home at Beach 68th Street, so the officers were able to make an arrest.  Someone had brought up an initiative in other precincts to give the public clubs and Air Tags, but the NCOs said that while the issue is happening in the 100th, it’s not as bad compared to the Bronx, where there’s quadruple the number of car thefts, so the NYPD is unable to invest in such programs for Rockaway.

Hamilton also spoke about a pattern of petty larceny from stores, mentioning a robbery at Duane Reade in which someone attempted to remove property and pulled a knife on the manager. That individual was arrested. Another involved a robbery at Stop and Shop, in which a worker was assaulted. That suspect, a resident of the St. John’s Home, was also arrested. There were also three burglary incidents, in which someone was taking packages from homes and construction sites and the individual was arrested.

At the end of the meeting, Heavey encouraged all to follow the 100th Precinct community Council on their new Facebook page for updates. The meeting then ended with a prayer from Rev. Joyce Dugger of First Congregational Church.

The 100th Precinct Community Council will be taking a break in January. The next Community Council meeting will be Wednesday, February 28 on Zoom, featuring Chief Beltran as a speaker. For Zoom access info, email: vp100pctcc@gmail.com

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