Police Blotter 7/29-8/11: Computer Hackers Love Target Gift Cards; Suspicious Sewer Staring
Monthly RPD Reports can be found here. New: July Activity Report
This is Rutherford publishes incidents that the public may find interesting or informative. The Blotter represents a small fraction of the total calls the RDP responds to regularly. The following information was provided to TIR by the Rutherford Police. All suspects are presumed innocent unless proven guilty. Incidents involving juveniles will not be published.
Sunday, August 11 - Noise Complaint, Stuyvesant Ave
RPD received a report of excavating being done all day on a Sunday causing a noise disturbance. Officers reported that they spoke to the homeowner who stated he would stop using the machinery even though homeowners are allowed to perform work on their own property on a Sunday.
Sunday, August 11 - Noise Complaint, Alwyn Terrace
At approximately 8:40 am a caller reported a commercial contractor working at a residence on a Sunday, against Borough ordinance. The workers were reported to be using circular saws and other tools. RPD spoke to the contractors who stated they would stop for the day.
Saturday, August 10 - Fraud, Union Ave
A 43 year old female from Rutherford stated she found a posting for a personal assistant job on housesitter.com. She contacted the job poster via email who identified himself as Michael Johnson and he advised her that he needed a personal assistant. The man stated he was an interior designer in Manhattan willing to pay the woman $480 per week. She accepted the offer and on July 26th he advised her via email he preferred to communicate via text message at the following phone number: 786-796-7978. On July 29th, the woman received a check in the mail and was instructed to deposit the check using her phone into her daughter’s checking account, then transfer $900 using Venmo to an account named kassanda-daniels-1 and $900 to and account named ngekia-fanny. On July 31st, Michael Johnson instructed the woman’s daughter to send $350 using Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org. That same day he emailed 2 checks in the amount of $2282 to the Rutherford resident which she printed using check paper. Upon attempting to deposit that check, she received a message that it was fraudulent. The resident contacted Michael Johnson via text and he attempted to convince her that he would correct this and that it was just a misunderstanding. She did not believe him but stayed in contact with him until August 8th when he stopped taking her calls. Wells Fargo was contacted and said it would investigate the matter but that her total loss was $2150. RPD investigations of the emails provided turned up with negative results.
Saturday, August 10 - Fraud, Orient Way
A 55 year old Rutherford female received a text message from Bank of America regarding two checks that were cashed in her name. She advised RDP that she does not have a checkbook and that she and her husband contacted Bank of America fraud department. The first check was cashed on August 7th to Mrs. Erica Brown for $889 and the second on August 9th to Mrs. Barbara Whiteknack for $998 totalling $1987. While inspecting the checks, it was apparent they were both written by the same individual. The victim has since closed her account.
Saturday, August 10 - Aid & Assist, Winslow Place
At approximately 8:45 am a 66 year old male requested assistance with his front door which was inoperable. RPD assisted the homeowner by disconnecting the front door knob which turned out to have a broken spring.
Friday, August 9 - Suspicious Person, Elycroft Parkway
At approximately 10:15 pm, a woman called to report someone banging on her door in an aggressive manner without stopping. RPD responded and reported it was the family’s uncle who had come for a visit. The family confirmed it was their uncle and no further assistance was needed.
Friday, August 9 - Suspicious Incident, Lincoln Ave
At approximately 8:20 pm an anonymous caller reported an SUV following a teenage girl as she walked down Lincoln Ave. RDP located the car and its driver turned out to be the mother of the girl in question. She was following her daughter after having a previous argument.
Friday, August 9 - Suspicious Person, Orient Way
A caller reported seeing a man walking and yelling at himself at approximately 2:02 pm. Officers were dispatched and reported that a 55 year old man had been told to exit a NJ transit bus for reasons unknown and was walking to the next bus stop to catch a bus to Paterson.
Friday, August 9 - Suspicious Person, Orient Way
A Burger King employee reported an irate customer arguing with customers and throwing food items at approximately 1:52 pm. The person was gone upon RPD’s arrival and the caller was unable to provide license plate number.
Friday, August 9 - Burglary, Prospect Place
A caller reported she had video footage of someone burglarizing her 2016 Mercedes Benz, but her husband took the car to work and would report any stolen property when he returned to town. The video captured 2 vehicles pull up, one person exiting one of those vehicles and entering the victim’s vehicle. It’s believed they took sunglasses, a phone charger and NJ drivers license.
Friday, August 9 - Burglary, Prospect Place
At approximately 7:14 am a caller reported that their 2017 Jeep had been broken into and approximately $500 worth of items missing including their wallet, cash and credit cards.
Friday, August 9 - Motor Vehicle Theft, Walnut Street
A 2008 Mercedes Benz wagon was reported stolen out of a homeowner’s driveway between 10 pm on August 8th and 5:30 am on August 9th.
Friday, August 9 - Theft, Union Ave
A 37 year old female reported her daughter’s bicycle was stolen. She stated the front door of their home, which is accessible from the sidewalk, had been left wide open. The bicycle was left in the hall next to the staircase in view of passing pedestrians. It was left at approximately 3:00 pm on August 8th and by 5:00 pm they noticed it was gone. Value of the bike is $140. It is a Mongoose brand with 20” tires and is mostly neon red and green with hand brakes, neon green foot pegs and a new bell on the handle bar with a blue heart.
Thursday, August 8 - Fraud, Cooper Place
A 61 year old male resident reported that while online paying his bills, a pop up occurred stating it was from Microsoft informing him that his computer was compromised and may have been linked to fraudulent activity. The message contained the following phone number, 833-885-1096, which he called and spoke to a woman who identified herself as Alicia Wilson and provided a Microsoft employee ID #. She informed him that $10,000 was due to be withdrawn from his bank account by an Ohio based porn company. She then directed him to bring up a series of screens, one of which was designated to grant her remote access to his computer. She instructed him to access his banking information and offered to call his banking institution to assist him in stopping this withdrawal immediately. He gave her his bank’s customer support number and she said she’d speak to them on his behalf. She put him on hold while she allegedly spoke to the bank. She returned to the line with another woman named Natalie Barlow who stated she worked with Chase bank. Natalie Barlow corroborated that $10,000 was due to be transferred later that day unless the matter was rectified and told the man to let Microsoft handle the matter and follow their directions. Being fearful that the money would be withdrawn, he agreed and let them assist him. He stated he had no dealings with any porn company or Ohio businesses. He stated Alicia Wilson instructed him to purchase $7,000 in gift cards from Target and Best Buy. When he did that, he was to provide them with the information on the back of the cards and was told that if he was questioned, to tell the cashiers that he was purchasing them for family members. He went to the Clifton Target and bought one $2,000 gift card and drove to the Clifton Stop and Shop and purchased ten $500 gift cards to Best Buy. After collecting the gift cards, he called Alicia Wilson and gave her the information. She told him the gift card amount would be credited to his account after the matter was cleared up. He explained the situation to his wife who informed him he had been scammed and they reported to RPD.
Monday, August 5 - Fraud, Sylvan Street
A 43 year old male reported that credit cards had been opened in his name and used. On August 5th, he checked his mail and discovered a letter from Synchrony Bank and a letter from Macy's. Both letters contained new credit cards for which he did not apply. Upon contacting both these companies, he discovered a person had applied for these cards and since July 27th, the unknown person was able to charge $4,000 on the Synchrony card and $1400 on the Macy’s card. He contacted both businesses and advised them he was the victim of fraud and to put a hold on both accounts.
Monday, August 5 - Fraud, West Newell Ave
A 61 year old male from Rutherford received a letter from the collection agency Glass Mountain Capital, LLC attempting to collect on a transaction made through Smartpay Leasing LLC for $1,867.11. He stated he did not make any purchases with Smartpay and reported a similar fraudulent activity in the past. He has LifeLock and notified the 3 credit bureaus.
Saturday, August 3 - Noise Complaint, Veteran’s Blvd
Officers observed a large group of vehicles racing on Veterans Blvd. at approximately 10:44 pm. Upon RPD’s arrival, vehicles began to disperse in various directions. Officer Beatini was able to pull over a white 2001 Ford Mustang registered to a woman from Princeton and being driven by her 17 year old son. The operator of the vehicle was issued a summons for an obstructed windshield.
Saturday, August 3 - Fraud, Park Ave
A Park Avenue business owner reported she was the victim of a scam after being contacted by a person posing as a PSE&G employee who told her that she owed $581 or her services would be shut off. She had recently paid a legitimate PSE&G bill for a similar amount of money. The phone number that contacted her was 850-523-5842 which came back with negative results when RDP tried to contact it and received a message that said “text mail subscriber only.” The woman also got a call from 1-800-274-0319 which also had negative results. She stated the unknown male who contacted her sent her a text message instructing her to go to the Sunoco gas station in Carlstadt and use the Bitcoin machine there to make a cash payment for $581. She complied but then reported the incident to RPD who contacted PSE&G who confirmed it was a scam and would share it with their fraud department.
Friday, August 2 - Identity Theft, Prospect Place
A 59 year old male reported an unknown person attempted to gain access to his bank account reports. On July 30th he was contacted by an employee at TD Bank’s New Haven branch who stated there may have been a suspicious incident at their bank. The employee advised him that an unknown black male attempted to access his bank account using a NJ drivers license containing all of the Rutherford resident’s information, except for his photo. The unknown person also knew the resident’s social security number, but not his bank account number. The bank employees became extremely suspicious and contacted the local New Haven police, but the man left before the police arrived.
Friday, August 2 - Criminal Mischief, Hastings Ave
A 72 year old male notified RDP that his 2006 Chevy Cobalt was scratched on the rear drivers side panel. The responding officer noted it approximately 12” in length. He parked his vehicle in front of his residence from approximately 2:00 pm on August 1st and noticed the scratch at approximately 11:30 am on August 2nd. He has no problems to report with anyone. The estimated damage is $500.
Friday, August 2 - Fraud, West Passaic Ave
A 63 year old male resident reported being the victim of computer fraud. He stated that on July 26th at 8:00 pm while using his computer he received a pop up stating the computer was compromised and to call the number on the screen, listed as Microsoft Tech Support. He called the number, 800 -642-7676, as directed, and spoke with a person he believed was a Microsoft Tech representative. That representative informed him his computer was hacked by a Russian hacker and then asked for the man’s bank’s telephone number. He stated that while on the phone with the supposed Microsoft Tech Support representative, they brought another person on the phone who identified himself as “Sam Wade of Wells Fargo Bank.” He stated Mr. Wade informed him that there was a pending withdrawal of $5,000 and in order to stop payment the man would have to follow any instructions from the Microsoft representative. The Microsoft representative stated the cost to rectify the situation would be $2,000 in Target or Game Stop gift cards, to be purchased at CVS in Wallington. The victim was then directed to give the information on the back of the cards to the Microsoft representative once they were scratched off. The resident complied and purchased four $500 gift cards and gave the information to the representative. The resident stated that while scratching the cards, he accidentally scratched off vital information and was unable to give the 4th gift card information to the representative. After explaining this to the representative, the resident was then directed to go back to CVS and purchase another card, at which point the man thought something was wrong. He decided to go to Wells Fargo and there he was told that he seemed to be a victim of fraud. He contacted CVS who informed him the cards had already been used in Long Beach, California.
Thursday, August 1 - Suspicious Incident, Garfield Place
A 32 year old female reported she received numerous phone calls from a suspicious number without anyone being on the other end. She also received 3 text messages, all of which stated “I’m on my way.” Officer Caughey returned to headquarters to check who owned the phone number and discovered it has been used multiple times in scam attempts and had been spoofed. The actual number belongs to a 52 year old Woodcliff Lake woman.
Thursday, August 1 - Unwanted Party, Union Ave
At approximately 12:08 am, 49 year male Uber driver reported that his passenger, a 36 year old male from Rutherford, was eating in the back of his vehicle despite being advised not to do so. The driver pulled over to the side of the road on Union Ave and requested the party exit the vehicle as he was not complying with the drivers request to stop eating, at which time the passenger refused to get out of the vehicle. Upon RPD arrival, the passenger stated he would walk the rest of the way as he was close to his destination.
Tuesday, July 30 - Noise Complaint, Stuyvesant Ave
At approximately 7:31 pm, an anonymous caller reported loud noises coming from contraction equipment. A nearby homeowner was located doing construction on his home. Although the Borough noise ordinance allows him to do work until 9:00 pm, he agreed to stop for the evening.
Tuesday, July 30 - Suspicious Incident, Union Ave
At approximately 4:09 pm, a 61 year old female reported witnessing what she believed to be an older male, possibly a “Grandfather’s age” and a small child looking into a sewer. She believed them to be suspicious. They walked away and she observed them walk back to the sewer. The two parties were located by RPD and identified as visitors from Chile.
Monday, July 29 - Suspicious Incident, Park Ave
At approximately 4:30 pm, a caller notified RPD of a suspicious item near Park and Addison. Officer Reed, who has bomb squad training, responded and found the object to be an empty pet carrier. He discarded it properly.
Monday, July 29 - Verbal Dispute, Hastings Ave
A 60 year old male contacted RPD to report that a landscaping company doing work for Hastings Village left his vehicle covered with vegetation and debris. An agreement was reached between the two parties where the landscaper would pay $20 for the man to take his vehicle to a car wash. The vehicle showed no signs of damage. RPD reminded the landscaper to be mindful of the area. No complaints signed at the time.
Monday, July 29 - Fraud, Washington Ave
A 48 year old Rutherford business owner reported fraudulent checks cashed using his business bank account totaling $16,685.20. This business owner was contacted July 25th by Bank of America for suspicious activity on his account. They stated that on July 24th the amount above was withdrawn from his bank account and that they later discovered two fraudulent checks had been forged using his business name. The counterfeit checks lacked features of an authentic Bank of America check and were signed using the business owner’s proper name, but his signature was in two different writing styles. His account is currently suspended while Bank of America investigates.