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Internet scam leaves Bayside at risk: 111th

The 111th Precinct is battling a string of Internet scams throughout northeast Queens.
TimesLedger Newspapers

An online money scam has been tricking some of the less tech-savvy residents of northeast Queens, the 111th Precinct said.

Police have been distributing fliers warning of a “family/friend in trouble” Internet scam, in which con artists convince their victims to share personal information and wire money. The precinct said the perps would call or e-mail random residents, most typically senior citizens, and say a relative or family friend has been arrested, mugged or is in the hospital with an immediate need for cash.

“They’ll tell you to wire them money. A lot of times, they will already know the person’s name,” said Luigi Galano, crime prevention officer with the 111th Precinct. “People have been falling for it. They think it’s legitimate.”

The 111th Precinct has been focusing on curbing the trend of Internet scams in the area and urging residents not to provide personal information or wire money if approached in this way, according to Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta, who was promoted from captain this month.

Police also warned of another potential Internet scam being reported to the 111th Precinct, outlining a misleading e-mail with Chase Bank’s letterhead soliciting Social Security or bank account numbers.

The uptick in Internet scams contributed to the precinct’s increase in reported grand larcenies to date, which police said were mostly related to identity theft. The 111th Precinct showed a total of 37 grand larcenies committed this year as of the most recent crime statistics released Sept. 1. That number was up roughly 42 percent, from 26 last year, the precinct said.

It was the highest of the seven major crime categories reported at the precinct, which covers neighborhoods of northeast Queens including Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.

Burglaries were the second highest crime so far this year, the precinct said, but that number was down to 13 from last year’s 20 reported incidents as of Sept. 1. Robberies were at the same level when compared to 2012, with four reported crimes to date, the 111th said.

Huerta said a chunk of these crimes stemmed from an ongoing string of car break-ins throughout the precinct. The deputy inspector urged all residents not to leave any valuables visible in their cars when they are unattended.

There were four reported felony assaults as of Sept. 1, according to the precinct — one more than the same date in 2012.

Grand larcenies showed the greatest decrease when compared to last year, with two reported incidents compared to five last year, the 111th Precinct said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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