Police warn residents about email scam using mayor’s name

West Milford. Someone using a fake email account with Mayor Michele Dale’s name tried scamming a township employee out of more than $500, police said Thursday.

| 14 Nov 2019 | 01:45

A fraudulent email bearing Mayor Michele Dale’s name was reportedly used this week to try and bilk more than $500 from a township employee, police said.

Detective Sgt. Eric Darnsteadt said Thursday that a township employee went to police Wednesday afternoon to file a theft by deception report after being asked to buy more than $500 in gift cards “for employee appreciation.”

The email claimed to have come from Mayor Michele Dale, but Darnsteadt said it was a fake account.

Darnsteadt said that it appears that only township employees were targeted with the bogus emails.

According to Darnsteadt, the victims were asked to go and purchase gift cards in the emails, and then, further instructions were texted to them through a “burner,” or untraceable cell phone.

“(The texts) came from an unknown number,” he said.

Dale’s name appeared in the body of the email, giving the impression to the employees that it was her request, he said.

In response, police put out a notice on Facebook, warning residents not to fall for the scam if contacted.

“We have received reports that an email scam is using Mayor Dale's name that requests gift cards be bought. This is a scam,” the police notice on Facebook said. “Disregard the email.”

Dale said Thursday that such a request is inappropriate for the mayor to make of any employee, and that all similar expenditures would, by law, have to go through the chief financial officer of the township after being approved by the Township Council.

“It’s unfortunate that we live in a climate where this can happen,” Dale said. “I would never request such a thing.”

Police are investigating the incident.