Scammers at work: NPD

A phony utility representative tried to get cash from a Washington Ave. business but was thwarted, according to Nutley PD.

The incident was reported to police March 2 by the business’s office manager, who said they’d received a call from someone claiming to be from PSE&G and advising them they had an outstanding balance of more than $1,000.

To avoid a power shutoff, the caller advised, the manager should pay cash immediately at a nearby location that the manager would be provided with.

Meanwhile, the manager was given a phone number to call to verify the account but was told by the person answering that it was Con Ed. After calling back the number that he was initially contacted from, the manager was told that they’d been given an incorrect number and was given a different number to contact.

At that point, the manager reached out to PSE&G through the utility’s main number, and was advised this was a scam and that if power was going to be discontinued, PSE&G would have sent an official “shut off notice.”

The PSE&G representative told the manager that normally this type of scam typically involves payment requested by credit card or money order rather than cash.

Police said the office manager expressed concern over the fact that the scammer knew the correct amount that the business owed, although the bill was not overdue. The scammer did not, however, know the business’ account number.

No money was sent in this case, police said.

Other apparent fraud cases were reported to police during the past week. These were the following:

March 2, a Columbia Ave. resident reported that when they tried to file a joint return with their spouse, the IRS told them that someone had apparently already fraudulently filed them and that they were investigating.

On March 3, a victim was called by someone who identified themselves as “Jacob Stafford” of the IRS and who told them that if they didn’t pay tax delinquencies totaling more than $5,000 from 2009-2013, they would be arrested and face seven years in prison. “Mr. Stafford” then directed the victim to drive to the nearest Office Depot and buy four Vanilla Reload Network prepaid cards for $500 each, which the victim did. Police said they tried to get the victim to stop payment on the cards but that they had already been redeemed. Police said they could not reach the party who called the victim.

On March 4, a would-be victim reported getting a call from an unknown man claiming to be from the Postal Service who told them that they had won millions of dollars in a sweepstakes but that they needed to send the caller $400 to process the check. Suspicious, the intended victim hung up and tried to call back, only to learn that the number was an exchange from Jamaica.

Also on March 4, a victim reported three unauthorized charges listed on their credit card statement. Two were made at the Giant Supermarket in Pennsylvania for $405 each and a third was made at a Getty gas station in New Jersey for $92.98. The victim has canceled the card.

Between Feb. 28 and March 6, Nutley PD also responded to 36 motor vehicle accidents, 12 disputes, 34 medical calls and these incidents:

 Feb. 28 

An Edgewood Ave. resident reported the theft of a wallet from their home.

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Police responded to a report of a suspicious person in the road at Taft and Spring Sts. There, they spotted a man in a black jacket talking on his cellular phone while walking in the street. Jhad Meadows, 24, of Nutley, was arrested after police learned he was wanted on an active warrant from Belleville. He was turned over to Belleville PD who released him pending a new court date.

 March 1 

An Uber driver parked on Prospect St. called police to report that they had just dropped off some fares, only to discover that the interior of their vehicle had been damaged, allegedly by the passengers. The driver told police that after being told they could not smoke inside the vehicle, the passengers got angry and one of them used a sharp object to cut the back portion of the driver and passenger side headrests, causing more than $200 in damage. After exiting, the passengers got into an older model gray Toyota and drove north on Prospect, the driver said. Police checked the area but found no trace of the suspects.

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Police responded to Kingsland St. and Passaic Ave. on a report of a theft. The victim told police they gave a stranger a ride from the Starbucks in Clifton to the US Gas station on Kingsland St. after his vehicle had reportedly run out of fuel but, when they reached the station, the stranger grabbed their Verizon Samsung Galaxy 5 cellular phone with a purple case, all valued at about $250, from the center console and began walking away north on Passaic. He was last seen at Passaic and Robert St. The suspect was described as black, 6 feet, medium build, wearing a black jacket, gray sweatpants and black skullcap. Police searched the area but came up empty.

March 2 

Police issued summonses for failing to have snow removed from sidewalks within a 36-hour period to individual homeowners on Hastings, Kenzel and Joerg Ave. and to two owners each on Nutley Ave., Race, Harrison and Parallel Sts.

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A McKinley St. homeowner reported that after waking up that morning, they noticed that their front door and kitchen window were open, that the window screen had been cut, that the garbage can under the window was knocked over, that items had been knocked over in the living room and that a Sony flat screen TV was gone. Detectives are investigating.

March 4 

Police responded to a Passaic Ave. location on a report of criminal mischief. Someone had slashed the tires of a parked truck, the owner told police. March 5  Police found a fire hydrant and a parking sign lying on the south side of Franklin Ave. on a snow mound. Police alerted the water department about the hydrant.

March 6 

A Ravine Ave. resident told police that they had given their keys to their vehicle to an individual to move the vehicle but the individual had failed to return the vehicle. Police advised the resident to sign a complaint in municipal court.

– Ron Leir 

The Observer Staff