Police in Riverside, Brookfield and North Riverside are warning senior citizens to beware of telephone scams, whose frequency has picked up since late February in the area.
On April 2, a local bank clerk foiled an attempted scam against an 81-year-old Riverside woman, who was in the process of withdrawing $3,000 from her bank account. The woman told the clerk that she needed the money to buy gift cards from a home improvement retailer that would be used to bail out her grandson, who had been jailed for drug possession in Naperville.
Through the details of the woman’s story, the bank clerk recognized it was scam and urged her to call police.
The “your grandson has been jailed” scam is just one version of a phone con always targeting elderly victims. On Feb. 24 and 27, North Riverside police received two complaints following that script. Neither of the intended victims fell for the scam.
In the first incident, the caller posed as the 89-year-old intended victim’s grandson, saying he’d been arrested in Cancun, Mexico, and that he needed $9,000 to get out of jail. When the woman told the caller she’d look into it and asked him to call back later.
The caller in the second incident also claimed to be a senior citizen’s grandson, saying he’d been arrested in California for having drugs in his car. The caller asked for $1,900 to bail him out of jail in California, but the intended victim hung up the phone.
In late March, Brookfield police reported five phone scam attempts, one of which resulted in an 83-year-old man having an undisclosed amount of money withdrawn from his bank account.
On March 23, an Elgin woman notified Brookfield police that her 83-year-old father had been victimized by a phone scam. The man told his daughter that in January he had received a call from someone telling him he had won a MegaMillions sweepstakes. Then in early March, the man was told to purchase pre-paid debit cards from Walgreens and send them to an account number.
When his daughter was paying her father’s bills, she noticed money was being taken out of his bank account. Her father continued to receive calls from the same Las Vegas phone number until his daughter told them to stop calling and contacted police.
In four other incidents reported by Brookfield police between March 20 and March 24, no money exchanged hands. In two of the incidents, a caller posed as the intended victim’s grandson, said he was in jail and needed money to get out. The intended victims were 78 and 86 years old.
One caller claimed to be an IRS official, who asked for money to correct a mistake made on a tax return. Yet another caller told his 89-year-old intended victim that she had won $400,000 from a casino. The woman was suspicious and told the caller she was going to call police, at which point he threatened the woman and hung up.