Some New Yorkers had a surprise in their mail this week: a notice of violation from a purported city agency, Vermin Control of New York. They were told to fill out the form and mail a check to the address listed.
The problem? There is no such agency.
Reddit user thirteen-thirtyseven posted a photo of the letter on Friday and asked the online community if the letter looked legit or if it is a scam.
Reddit descended on the letter and picked it to shreds pointing out the various flaws: misspellings, a bogus address, an invalid and an unclaimed web domain, the signature is a misspelling of the former commissioner’s name and there is no option to appeal.
Assistant Commissioner for Pest Control Services Mario Merlino issued a statement warning the public of the scam:
“Unscrupulous people are mailing fraudulent violation notices acting as the Health Department’s Division of Pest Control. New Yorkers should know that the Health Department never issues a notice of violation demanding immediate payment. Our notices of violation allow New York City residents to address any violations and they can be contested at an official hearing. We ask New Yorkers to immediately contact 311 or the Health Department if they have received a letter from ‘Vermin Control of New York;’ with their help we can stop these tactics.”
The letter appears to be on official city letterhead, but as headphase pointed out, asking someone to fill out the property information is like asking someone to fill out their own parking ticket.
Reddit user droy0 purchased one of the websites provided on the letter (the only one that is a valid looking web address) and it now redirects to the thread on Reddit. Metro called the upstate New York number listed on the letter, but was greeted each time by a busy signal.
The letter has been reported to various governmental agencies by various Reddit users who also received the scam letter. Merlino asked that the public be aware of this scam.