City Safety Report: Common Scams

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    Reprinted from the City of Bethlehem Newsletter, Spring 2016:

    Every spring, when the flowers come out, so do scams. Most of these scams are perpetrated on elderly citizens. The following is a brief list of the most common types.

    The Chimney Sweep Scam
    You will receive a call about getting your chimney cleaned. The suspect will then come to your house, telling you that your fuel company told them to clean the chimney. You are shown false photos of your broken chimney. You pay for the work which is never done.

    The Distraction Burglary
    The most common types are the property line dispute and the utility company scam. The suspects will come to your house while another suspect enters and steals cash, jewelry, etc. Sometimes, the suspect will get the citizen to go down to the basement with them to check the pipes. While down there, another suspect will go through the house; either way you are robbed.

    The Phone Scam
    A suspect will call you late at night. They will say they are the Police, FBI, Bank, grandson, family member. A story will be told. You will be asked for credit info, Social Security Number, bank info, access codes, or to wire money somewhere to help.

    The Paving Scam
    A suspect will knock on your door. They will tell you they did a job on another street and have left over asphalt and will fix your driveway for cheap. They will spray the driveway with some type of black substance which does nothing. They charge hundreds of dollars for this.

    The Lottery Scam
    You receive a phone call or email that you have won millions in a lottery. All you have to do is contact a person and pay a few hundred dollars in taxes. Sometimes, you will receive a check, be told to cash it and send a thousand dollars back to them for the taxes. In both cases, you lose by sending money to someone or by cashing a fake check, for which you are now responsible.

    These scams occur every year in Bethlehem by suspects who travel state to state with the warmer weather. They prey on the elderly and handicapped. The best way not to be a victim of a scam is to remember these two things: “if it is too good to be true, it probably is not true” and “if you did not enter, you can’t win.” If someone contacts you for a service you did not call about, or even think about, it could well be someone trying to scam you. Don’t be a victim. Call the Bethlehem Police Department. Dial 911 or 610-865-7187. We will gladly deal with them. -Mark A. DiLuzio, Chief of Police

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