FLUSHING — In recent weeks, the Flushing City Police Department has been getting inundated with calls about internet/ phone scams, including a new fraud targeting Amazon customers in the community.
Flushing Police Chief Mark Hoornsta said that his department has received numerous tips from residents about a scam disguised as a message from Amazon. In this scheme, scammers pose as Amazon representatives and either contact customers over the phone or through an email notification.
“When the scammers make contact with customers, they claim that their (Amazon) account has been tampered with or that someone used their account to purchase something,” said Cathleen Ross, an administrative assistant with the Flushing City Police Department. “Then they request to gain access to the person’s account remotely to fix their account or convince them that they have to purchase cards to pay for the items.”
Ross said that the “Amazon scam” is especially dangerous because scammers can gain access to a victim’s financial records or defraud them of hundreds or thousands of dollars by making them purchase gift cards and give out the codes over the phone.
Although his officers take reports on internet and over-the-phone related scams, Hoornstra said that his department simply doesn’t have the resources or jurisdiction to investigate these types of cases.
“While we’re concerned about the security of the residents, there’s a limited amount of investigative work that we can do,” he said. “These scams are originating somewhere else out of state or overseas and certainly not coming from the Flushing community.”
Hoornstra said that anyone who wants to report cases of internet or phone fraud should contact the FBI at https:// www.ic3.gov/. In the meantime, he’s advising residents to be vigilant.
“If you receive an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from a company like Amazon, get a phone number from the real company and call them,” he said. “You can also log into your account to see if anything has been tampered with or purchased without your knowledge. Never give out your banking information or sensitive information like your social security numbers to someone who is soliciting you. Also remember that no legitimate agency will ask you to pay for something with gift cards.”