Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Fraud and scams can originate anywhere and find anyone, even the police chief.
Con men no longer concentrate on the silver hair set with personal schemes. They strike targets from long distance. Their reach knows no boundaries.
Sometimes there is a personal touch, with a phone call or an email. Many times it seems totally random. The victim never has contact with the crook, but just a notices a glitch on a credit card or bank statement.
Police Chief Larry Eggert once got billed for two $500 cell phones he never bought. The scam started with a phone call asking about a change in his personal identification number (PIN). Then he got the bill for $1,000 for phones he never ordered. Someone in New York City got the phones.
Eggert pressed the issue and learned, “They knew address where they shipped the phones to, but the card company didn’t take the trouble. It turned off the phones, took the $1,000 loss and went on with business.”
Det. Lt. Rick Podgers recalled a victim who got curious 1-cent bills from Hong Kong tacked on to her account. That was a test before a big hit of $1,000.
”If it happens, the bank gives it back,” Podgers said. “That’s why credit card rates are so high.”
Recently, there has been a spike in local police reports and the victims come in all ages.
”Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening,” Eggert said. “Crime used to be local, then it became regional, now it’s global.”
The crooks come from all over. The Lockport police blotter shows local residents are not only victimized in the state: New York City, White Plains, Little Neck and Brooklyn; but from Colorado, Delaware, Texas, Maryland and even Flourtown, Pa. Add Canadian cities Montreal and Mississauga.
”It’s a lot bigger than Lockport. It’s all across the country. People’s credit cards are stolen and used,” Eggert said. “It’s a diverse group. They tended to target the older people, but some how they’re getting people’s ID information and creating false IDs.”