Mineola, NY – Nassau County Executive Laura Curran today issued a warning to residents about a telephone scam in which consumers receive calls from potential fraudsters impersonating the Chinese Consulate to demand payment in exchange for a package or to prevent punishment from the consulate office. As of this month, there have been continued reports of these scam calls targeting residents throughout Nassau County. Nassau residents who receive such calls should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
“These phone scams are more than just tedious; for many – especially our more vulnerable residents – they can be catastrophic,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “I urge our residents to be vigilant, and immediately contact the FTC should they receive this scam call.”
Last year, the NY Attorney General’s office received a report that New York consumers were receiving calls from someone falsely claiming to be a representative from a nearby consulate office. Some consumers reported receiving calls or messages instructing them to pick up a package, while others received threats urging them to provide information to avoid being in trouble with the Chinese Consulate. Several consumers were led to believe that if they did not offer up information or pay a fine they would suffer negative consequences, including arrest upon traveling to China. In order to resolve the matter, the scammers asked consumers for their bank or credit card information or demanded that they make a bank transfer to the consulate.
“Stealing from innocent New Yorkers is both illegal and immoral,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “We have seen too many scammers take advantage of vulnerable communities by inciting fear and confusion in an attempt to line their own pockets. New Yorkers must be on the alert for this scam and report it to my office or the FTC.”
As of this month, there have been continued reports of these scam calls targeting residents throughout Nassau County. According to an FTC warning from last year, scammers appear to be calling from outside of the U.S. and targeting people with Chinese last names, including recent immigrants.
The Chinese Embassy and Consulates-General in the U.S. have issued an official statement on the matter here.
Tips To Avoid Falling Victim
If the caller is a stranger, be alert. Be aware that this type of extortion scam depends on fear. The scammer knows they need to work quickly to obtain your money because you may try to take steps, even while on the phone with the scammer, to verify the nature of the call. Scammers will try to keep you on the line.
The New York Attorney General’s office offers the following tips to avoid falling victim to these types of scams:
Never give out personal information to a stranger on the phone.
Never wire money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or any other wire service to a stranger.
Never purchase gift or money cards for the purpose of providing the gift card numbers to someone else.
Immediately contact authorities to report potential scams.
Never purchase gift cards for the purpose of providing the gift card numbers to someone else. Gift cards are not a legitimate form of payment.