How a fake NJ contact tracer cost one business thousands of dollars

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EVESHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ –   You see the ads on television and on social media. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is upset because residents aren’t accepting calls from contact tracers.

One New Jersey company did take the call from a strange number and it ended up costing them a lot of money.

Phil Murphy says less than 20% of New Jersey residents are answering the call.  That’s because we’re busy, we don’t trust strange numbers and many don’t trust the government.

A business who did, ended up paying the price.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Evesham Township Police Chief Christopher Chew announced that a 32-year-old township woman has been charged with impersonating a public official and threatening to shut down a township business, falsely claiming it had failed to adhere to COVID-19 isolation and cleaning protocols.

Jennifer Strumph, of the 100 block of South Elmwood Road, was charged with Computer Crime (Second Degree), Criminal Coercion with Intent to Harm Reputation (Third Degree) and Assuming a False Identity (Third Degree). She was taken into custody March 4 and released following a first appearance in Superior Court. The case will now be prepared for preparation to a grand jury for possible indictment.

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The investigation, which began late last year, revealed that Strumph contacted a local plumbing business and pretended to be a contact tracer with the Burlington County Health Department.

The business owner subsequently paid employees more than $5,100 in overtime to comply with the requirements set forth by Strumph, who also created a fictitious email address to help make the impersonation believable. Her motive is still being determined.

The criminal ruse was exposed after employees ultimately became suspicious and contacted police, who confirmed with Burlington County Health Department officials that the name Strumph had been using was not someone who was employed by the agency.

Strumph will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy. The investigation was conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office, with assistance from the Evesham Township Police Department. The lead investigator was BCPO Detective Nicholas Schieber.