110 E. Walnut Street - Oglesby, Illinois 61348  ·  Phone: 815-883-3389

Senior Scams & Swindles

March 24, 2010 by Tom Porter  
Filed under News from Your City Council

On March 23rd the Oglesby police were invited to the Oglesby’s  American Association of Retired Persons meeting (AARP) held at the Oglesby Elks Club.  Assistant Chief Jim Knoblauch, Investigator Bob Stone and myself attended this meeting.  Assistant Chief Knoblauch and Investigator Stone gave an approximately 30 minute informative talk that was primarily centered around “Scams & Swindles” that many seniors fall victims to.
Some of the topics discussed included people that may mis-represent themselves as offering needed services, such as home repair or cleaning.  Many times dishonest individuals use these tactics to gain entry into homes.  Once they are inside, they may attempt to distract the home owner and attempt to search the home for valuables and money that they may easily steal.  Oftentimes, the homeowner doesn’t realize that anything is missing until long after the “scam” artist leave the area.
Another discussion detailed how residents are sometimes “tricked” into handing over money willingly to unscrupulous “swindlers”.  Many times these individuals will target seniors that may have recently lost a family member and are grieving.  One tactic is to send the resident a letter, always with an “explanation” regarding the sender needing help cashing a check or collecting a large windfall such as a lottery ticket.  These letters always ask that you send money to a strange address, they usually indicate that this is a good faith gesture on the resident’s part, so that they show that they can be trusted.  This always follows with a promise to send a large sum of money back under various scenario’s.  Remember, If it sounds too good to be true…  it usually is.
Presently, there appears to be an increase in  another type of scam that involves a stranger calling a senior citizen, claiming to be a grandson or granddaughter.  Usually they claim to be far away, in a foreign country, in some sort of trouble and ALWAYS needing money urgently.  In this scam, the resident is asked to wire money to a far away destination.  Please remember that these people are very good at what they do, which is STEALING YOUR MONEY.  Many times people are so confused and worry about the “grandchild” that needs help, they are tempted to run to the bank and send the money without realizing that many parts of these “stories” do not add up.  There have been many instances of this happening locally.  Many times the bank employees are able to intervene, and stop seniors from being victimized, but not always.
It is important to note that these scams do not target seniors only.  We can all be victimized from these unscrupulous individuals.  Many times seniors are  targeted because they are often times more isolated.  Friends and family members may be gone or live far away.  Many times seniors obey someone telling them what to do because they are under the impression that they are doing what is asked of them.  They are simply trying to help whoever they believe is asking them for help.  Many times it is people posing as family, friends, a banker or a credit card company.  These are all tactics that dishonest individuals use to gain the trust of their victims.
If something doesn’t seem right.  Don’t do it until you have all the facts.  Take the time to ask friends, family, neighbors or anyone else that is available.  If no one is available, Please call the police.  The police cannot give legal advise, but they may be able to tell you if the situation that you are describing sounds “Too Good to be True”.  They may be able to share with you that other people have fallen victim to the same letter, phone call or email.  The police are willing to help any resident sort through the facts in these instances.  Please ask for help from any source that is available to you.
I would like to thank the Oglesby AARP for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to address their members at this meeting.