Nutley PD recovers $20K scammed from woman

Most of the time when we report stories about residents being scammed, the ending is not good.

For the first time in recent memory — maybe ever — we have an instance where the outcome is great.

Nutley Police Director Alphonse Petracco and Chief Thomas Strumolo announced Nov. 18 that police were able to recover $20,000 fraudulently scammed from one Nutley resident.

Strumolo says in early October, a 58-year-old woman received a call advising that she was due a large refund; however, she needed to send cash to clear the funds for release. The Nutley resident sent the $20,000 in cash by mail, which was ultimately intercepted by the La Verne, California, Police Department.

The Nutley and La Verne PDs are working through subpoenas to identify the scammer, believed to be from California. He was using Uber and Lyft accounts and an Air Bed and Breakfast as his mailing address. Through investigation it appears he has been defrauding other victims throughout the country.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Nutley detectives received a check made payable to the victim for $20,000.

Strumolo says this was an unusual job.

“We were able to stop the funds in transit. Other victims who sent money were not so fortunate,” Strumolo said. “It was with the cooperation of La Verne police that we were able to recover the money.”

Petracco says phone and internet scams are out of control.

“Most of the callers are very convincing and residents continue to believe what they are being told,” Petracco said. Chief Strumolo and I continue to send alerts and news releases warning not to send money or provide personal information, yet the calls are so believable that residents continue sending money before contacting authorities.”

Petracco commended detectives — most notably Det. James Baunhuber for his diligent work on the case — and thanked the La Verne Police Department for their efforts.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.