NYPD warning thieves targeting Central Park visitors in Zelle scam

Janice Yu Image
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Police warning people in Central Park to beware of scammers
Janice Yu has the full report on Zelle scamming.

CENTRAL PARK (WABC) -- NYPD officers were out in Central Park on Tuesday to warn New Yorkers of scammers preying on generous people.

"We're asking them to not give their phone to anybody that they do not know," said NYPD Officer Anthony Hale.

Since May 19, the NYPD has received at least six reports of women being approached by a group of young men in Central Park -- mostly in Sheep Meadow.

They say the men asked for donations for their sports team via Zelle, a money transfer app.

They then convinced the women to hand over their phones, saying they'd type in the email address associated with their account.

"Once they get their phones, they quickly transfer themselves large sums of money," said Capt. Anthony Lavino, commanding officer of the Central Park precinct.

Two of the victims were able to cancel the transactions in time but the other four lost a total of nearly $7,000.

The string of scams follows former Miss New York Briana Siaca coming forward to tell her story of having $2,000 stolen in a similar scam while she was in Madison Square Park earlier this month.

To prevent more people from falling victim, the NYPD spent time in Central Park Tuesday, reminding people to take small but critical steps.

"We're asking them to set up two-step verification on all of their applications, specifically their financial applications," Hale said. "And were also asking them to set up transaction limits to prompt them before a transaction goes through."

Police released pictures of possible suspects connected with the latest incident. They say there is a strong possibility the same people committed all of the crimes.

"We've adjusted our deployment to the areas where we're seeing increases in this to make sure we have officers at the time and locations where these incidents are happening," Iavino said.

MORE NEWS | Ex-Miss New York sounds alarm after teens rob her of $2K in Zelle scam

Darla Miles has the latest details on a Zelle scam.


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