Elderly residents in the 112th Precinct are being targeted by con artists, and police and community leaders are asking the public to spread the word about the scams in an effort to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
The 112th Precinct Community Council released information about the crimes on their Facebook page on Monday, specifying that the group was doing so because Capt. Thomas Conforti, commanding officer of the 112th, wanted the information available to the public.
On Friday, Aug. 2, a 91-year-old woman who was home alone answered her doorbell and found two middle-aged women and a female child standing outside her residence. The two older individuals at the door acknowledged the homeowner by name and asked if the child could use her bathroom.
The homeowner obliged and, as one of the women distracted the elderly individual, the second female and the child went upstairs to allegedly use the bathroom but instead swiped jewelry found in the bedroom, police said. The criminals then thanked the homeowner, who had no clue they were pocketing her valuables, and left. “This is an instance where a 91-year-old woman thinks she is helping a child and instead gets robbed,” said Capt. Thomas Conforti, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park. “It’s so sad.”
When he spoke with the victim, Conforti said the woman told him she regularly read alerts that the 112th Precinct Community Council issues. She told Conforti she knew what to be on the lookout for – but the presence of the child threw her off guard.
In a second incident, a senior received a telephone call from what the scammer said was Time Warner Cable. The caller told the homeowner that the cable would be turned off for nonpayment of fees and that the only way to avoid this would be to go to 7-11 and purchase two “Green Dot Payment Cards” for $440 each. The homeowner was then told to call them back at a different number to supply them with the card numbers. The caller identification matched the company number.
Conforti said he strongly encourages residents to contact their elderly neighbors and relatives and inform them about these scams. He stressed that individuals should not allow anyone without identification into their homes – and should never provide payment information of account numbers over the phone.
If a resident is contacted by anyone conducting the above behavior, they should call 911 immediately.
By Anna Gustafson