Man Claiming to Be Police Officer with Grandson in Custody Scams a Grandmother

Elgin Police Department is investigating a scam case that cost an elderly Elgin woman $5,500. The woman received a phone call August 23, 2010 about 9:10 a.m. from a man claiming to be the police that said her grandson was in jail and needed $2,800 for bail money and drug tests. A male voice in the background called out ‘grandma’ during the phone conversation. The woman wired $2,800 through Elgin Western Union and then an additional $2,700 after the offenders asked for more money.

The scam is known as the ‘Grandparent Scam’ or the ‘Emergency Scam.’

Tips to protect against this the ‘Grandparent Scam’:

• Don’t fill in the blanks for the caller: If the scammer asks a leading question “Hello grandma; do you know who this is?” and he is provided with a name, he might go with that name. Ask a lot of questions, and those questions that have answers only your family should know: “Which grandson has been arrested this time?” You’ll learn quickly enough if it’s a con artist.

• Do whatever is necessary to obtain and confirm your relative’s whereabouts. Get off the phone as soon as possible and call your grandchild’s parents or your grandchild’s home, school or work to verify what you’ve been told.

• Don’t wire money. If a caller asks for your bank account number or urges you to wire money for any reason, it’s most likely a scam. Cons prefer wire transfers because they are fast, and funds can be picked up easily and just about anywhere.

If you are victim of a scam, make note of the caller ID number — if available — and report the incident to the police by calling 9-1-1. Most likely the call is blocked and shown as an ‘Unknown Caller.” Keep in mind that it is possible to fake a caller ID number — a procedure known as spoofing caller ID.

If you are a victim of this scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov, 877-382-4357 (877-FTC-HELP).