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Crime Report: Fake employers offer jobs to online applicants, then scam them

Crime Report: Fake employers offer jobs to online applicants, then scam them
Crimes in late April and early May include theft by false pretenses, fraudulent check, grand theft, vandalism, burglary, unauthorized computer use, fraud by false pretenses, grand theft and petty theft. (File Photo)

April 29

Theft by false pretenses: 2100 block of Crescent Avenue, Montrose. A man reported that on the morning of April 22 he received a call from an individual identifying himself as an employee at the U.S. Marshal’s office who was calling to advise him his Social Security number was in jeopardy. The victim was then transferred to another man at the same office who told him he would have to send a cashier’s check via FedEx in order to get a new Social Security number. The victim was told to keep the transaction confidential. He transferred a large sum of money (the amount is unspecified in the report) out of his savings account in order to comply with the request and sent off the cashier’s check in the required sum. On April 23, his daughter-in-law, who is authorized to have access to the victim’s bank account, asked him about the large withdrawal from his savings. He told her the story and she told him he had been the victim of a scam.

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April 30

Fraudulent check: 3100 block of Brookhill Street, La Crescenta. A woman who works by contract with an online company that connects customers with those willing to run errands or do babysitting tasks for them was put in touch on April 18 with a man who claimed to live in Glendale and wanted to hire a babysitter. When she spoke to the man by phone, he told her his accountant hadn’t shown up for work and he needed her to pay bills for him rather than babysit. She agreed to do so. He instructed her to buy Amazon gift cards to pay some of his bills online. She was emailed a check to cover the cost of those gift card purchases and to pay for her services. She printed out the check and deposited it into her bank account, then used the funds to purchase the gift cards and make the payments to the man’s accounts. She later learned from her bank the check she had deposited was fraudulent. She attempted to contact the “client” but was unsuccessful and could recall only vague details about the payments she’d made on his behalf. The deputy who took her report said he was unsuccessful finding a Glendale man matching the name and description of the scammer.

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May 1

Grand theft: 2500 block of Mayfield Avenue, Montrose. A man reported that he had filled out an online job application and on April 29 was hired as a freelance animator. He was sent a check and instructed to deposit it in his bank account. He was further told to buy Google Play and Amazon gift cards (the total amount of the purchases is not specified in the report), then to provide over the phone the serial numbers of those gift cards to his new “employer” so they could purchase products from their vendors for use in his work. He later learned from his bank the check he had deposited was fraudulent. He was unable to make contact with the employer again and realized he had been scammed.

Vandalism: 2100 block of La Cañada Crest Drive, La Cañada. A woman reported that someone made four scratches on the side of her 2018 Acura ILX sometime between 5 p.m. on April 29 and 4 p.m. on May 1.

May 3

Burglary: 1300 block of Foothill Boulevard, La Cañada. Sometime between 4:30 on May 2 and 6:30 a.m. May 3 a window at a building where construction work is ongoing was shattered and several tools and a cart were taken.

Unauthorized computer use, fraud: 2400 block of Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta. A woman reported that on April 28 she began receiving calls from clients who told her they weren’t able to open any files on their computers. She checked her computer to find a message demanding ransom in Bitcoin payment if she wanted her files decrypted. When filing the crime report at the sheriff’s station she told the deputy taking it that she’d already engaged an outside company to help negotiate the ransom price and the decrypting work had begun.

Fraud by false pretenses: 4300 block of Hayman Avenue, La Cañada. A woman who accepted a job offer that came after she posted her resume at several job-offer websites was victimized by the “employer” who asked her to deposit into her bank account a check sent to her by his company, then use the funds to send via wire transfer a payment to a client, keeping a percentage of it as her commission. When she attempted to make the wire transfer she was advised by a teller that there had been numerous cases of fraud wherein people were being told to wire money out of the U.S. She later learned the check she had deposited from the fake employer had turned out to be bogus.

May 4

Grand theft: 4700 block of La Crescenta Avenue, La Crescenta. A man reported that someone removed the catalytic converter from his 2003 Honda Element, which had been left parked in front of his residence from 6 p.m. May 3 to 9:30 a.m. May 4.

May 6

Petty theft: 600 block of Foothill Boulevard, La Cañada. A woman reported that while she was shopping at a store between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on May 1 she was approached by an adult white woman with blond hair who was carrying multiple items in her hands. The other customer dropped the items in front of the victim and asked for her help in picking them up. The victim, whose handbag was slung over her shoulder at the time, bent over and helped the woman pick up the goods. Later, when she arrived at the cash register, she realized her wallet, which contained cash and credit/debit cards had been stolen. About a half-hour later she began receiving multiple fraud alerts from her credit and debit card companies.

Compiled from reports filed at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.

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