Zelle Scammers Find Victims in Central Park

A string of mobile banking scams targeting visitors of Central Park has the NYPD on high alert.

At least five incidents have occurred in the past week involving perpetrators persuading park goers to hand over their phones under the guise of entering Zelle information to donate money to a variety of false causes, such as supporting a sports team. The perps then attempt to transfer a large sum of money out of the victims’ accounts.

In the latest incident, a 23-year-old woman was targeted at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday near W. 101st St. and West Drive when a group of four suspects approached asking for help for a basketball fundraiser. The NYPD said a Zelle transfer was attempted, but that the suspects fled on foot after the victim snatched her phone back.

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No arrests have been made as of writing. Here’s who the police say they are looking for:

“A male approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall with a slim build. He was last seen wearing black sweatpants, a light-colored shirt, and black and purple Nike sneakers. He also has long dreadlocks.

“The second sought-after individual is described as a male approximately 5 feet 8 inches. He was last seen wearing a light gray shirt.
“The third sought-after individual is described as a male approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall.
“The fourth sought-after individual is described as a male with a white shirt and slim build.”

“Be aware of scams involving a stranger who asks for donations using Venmo, CashApp, or Zelle,” the NYPD said. “The scammer will say they didn’t receive a donation and will borrow your phone to transfer large amounts of cash from your bank account. Never give your phone to someone you don’t know.”

Anyone with relevant information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by sending a direct message to @NYPDTips on Twitter.


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