Scammers Target Williamsburg and Flatbush Kosher Supermarkets

Recently, hundreds of Frum Brooklyn residents and customers, especially in Williamsburg and Flatbush the last two weeks, have fallen victim to Credit Card and EBT SNAP benefits skimming in the area. In some cases, large families have lost thousands of dollars in food stamps benefits.

By FrumNews.com

Williamsburg, Brooklyn — As FrumNews.com reported several times ago, Credit Card and Food Stamp (EBT) skimming scams have increased in New York over the past few months.

Recently, hundreds of Frum Brooklyn residents, especially in Williamsburg and Flatbush the last two weeks, have fallen victim to Credit Card and EBT SNAP benefits skimming in the area. In some cases, large families have lost thousands of dollars in food stamps benefits.

Williamsburg Shomrim discovered a skimming device at a shop on Lee Ave, and the UJO put out alerts for the Kehilla to change their PIN.


According to Williamsburg Shomrim, additional EBT Skimmer devices were discovered in several grocery stores in Williamsburg. They said in a statement that “while we work hard together with the detectives to locate the culprits behind these acts, we urge you to go ahead and change your PIN number to secure your information and your funds.”

There was a skimming attempt that was stopped and caught at the Pomegranate Supermarket on Coney Island Ave in Flatbush, due to the swift alert action of Pomegranate management, Baruch Hashem, no one was scammed in this incident.

Many of the skimming devices are placed by a professional theft ring of criminals targeting grocery stores in New York State.

FrumNews.com has been informed, that although this skimming scam is mostly happening at hundreds of local bodegas, Kosher grocery stores and supermarkets in Brooklyn are having their frum managers check almost daily the devices to make sure no skimmers are being placed.

Background

Shmira and Shomrim organizations have been warning residents for the past several months to be cautious when at the checkout counter, they have recovered several skimming devices placed by outsiders in kosher supermarkets, thus thwarting additional scams.

Skimming fraud happens silently and often without the victims’ knowledge. Scammers walk into stores and place hidden devices over or inside card-reading machines at legitimate retailers to copy card and PIN information directly.

The recent string of cases was the second this year in Williamsburg. As FrumNews.com reported in March, scammers used the same method to defraud EBT users at a Williamsburg supermarket.

According to the FBI, skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year. Over 61,000 New Yorkers have been victims of EBT fraud.

Among the bills we reported on to curb EBT fraud from Frum Assemblyman Sam Berger, who proudly represents the Queen’s kehilla of Kew Gardens Hills and Forest Hills, to prevent fraud by requiring EBT systems to allow benefit recipients to cancel and lock their food stamps card when fraud has been suspected or reported.

In Late March, the bill passed the Assembly and has been in the social services committee in the State Senate since then. It is expected to pass in the coming months.

What Should I Do?

For those who lost EBT benefits, a bill that passed last year after hard work from Rep. Nydia Velazquez (who represents Williamsburg), Rep. Grace Meng (who represents the kehilla Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Garden Hills), and New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand, allows stolen benefits (up to two months) to be reclaimed. To reclaim benefits, click here. You have 30 days to report a claim.

In January, the New York State’s Consumer Protection Agency gave a number of tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Inspect the card reading machine for an overlay device. Check for unusual setups, including abnormal bulkiness, residues, and different colors, materials, or shapes. Check to see if it’s loose around the card reader. If it moves, consider using another machine.
  • Check the keypad. Thieves may place a phony keypad overlay to store keystrokes. If the buttons look or feel different, don’t use it.
  • Choose your ATM location wisely. Machines located inside banks or indoor locations are much more secure than ATMs located on the street, where anyone can access them.
  • Look for hidden cameras. Thieves often place cameras near the vicinity to record PIN numbers. The camera may be mounted at the top or ceiling of a terminal. Protect yourself by shielding the PIN pad when entering a PIN number. Use your hand and/or body to cover your PIN when you type it in.
  • Change your PIN and track your balance on the NY HRA App to spot a scam when it may happen. The app can be downloaded here.

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