New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is warning New Yorkers about a new telephone scam that has already tricked 21 victims out of a collective $2.5 million since December 2017.
Scammers are targeting Chinese Americans, claiming to be from the Chinese Consulate. The callers will demand payment in exchange for a package or to prevent punishment from the consulate office. 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.
In multiple instances, the scammers left messages asking consumers to return the call a number that rerouted consumers to a 911 emergency call center in Polk County, Ark. Beginning yesterday morning, the call center received 500 calls from New Yorkers targeted by the scam. Fortunately, none of the consumers who reported receiving this call paid the scammers any money.
According to the FTC, the scammers appear to be calling from outside of the U.S. and targeting people with Chinese last names, including recent immigrants. The New York Police Department reports that since December 2017, 21 Chinese immigrants have been victimized and lost a total of $2.5 million.
New Yorkers who receive such calls should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP.