Both Lexington Square Senior Living Communities in Lombard and Elmhurst recently hosted their local police departments in presentations about fraud and scams prevalent against seniors. 

Detective Ken Lafin, a 26-year veteran of the Elmhurst Police Department who spends his time investigating crimes, warned invited guests about gypsies who are born and raised to learn how to steal. “They and inbred, don’t attend school and are part of large networks that commit non-violent crimes such as the Rouse Burglary, pick pocketing, Grandparent scams and so much more,” said Lafin.

He described the Grandparent Scam as someone calls pretending to be a grandchild, a long lost loved one or someone who you would care about, and he/she tells you they need money, or gift cards or other items sent immediately so they can get out of jail, a bad situation or some other difficult situation. Because they speak softly, you say, ‘Is that you Johnny?’ and they say ‘yes’ and they are now armed with critical information to get into your pocket.

The Rouse Burglary requires a team of 2 to 4 people. One distracts you at your home, at a store or wherever, while you are talking to that person, another steals your wallet or items in your house. There may also be a person looking out and a driver.

In a professional presentation with crime video footage, Officer Dan Herrera with the Lombard Police Department for six years and the Willowbrook department prior to that, echoed much of the same information as Lafin to invited guests at the Lexington Square Lombard community. He stressed that Internet and telephone scams are very popular and a means to obtain information to steal your identity. He explained that crimes are easily committed at stores, gas stations, grocery aisles, and even in your own homes. According to Herrera, “Don’t EVER let anyone into your home if you don’t know them or have not invited them to come to your house!”

Lessons from the police included that you should remember that 9.5 out of 10 people are good, well-intended and want to help you with those grocery bags or heavy items. The people who chose to prey on seniors do so because they know that older adults are well-mannered, have been raised to be kind and lend assistance when it is needed, such as when someone asks you to reach a high item on the shelf, or read a label to see if there is too much sugar in an item.

Officer Herrera discussed telephone scams from social security to car warranty to foreign sheiks who offer to split their extraordinarily large inheritance or lottery wins with you if you just send them your bank account information.

Their collective professional wisdom came to the same conclusions:
If something does not feel right to you heed that warning and call the police (911):
– Always be aware of your surroundings
– Never allow anyone you don’t know into your home regardless of how official they seem. Call 911 to have the police come out to be with you, and finally,
– Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is!

Information about current crimes is typically available on your police department’s Facebook page or in their press releases. But most of all, call them in any situation where you are uncomfortable – it is their job, and they are trained and want to help keep all of us safe.

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