In one case, an 88 year old man answered the door for a man identifying himself as “an inspector”. He was wearing an orange vest and told the victim that he needed to access the home. The victim allowed the man, described by the Oak Lawn police as a heavy set African American male, to enter the unit of the apartment building believing he was an inspector. After he entered the unit, the offender pushed the victim to the floor, after apparently looking around, and demanded money.
The offender escaped with the victim’s money and the Oak Lawn police are requesting that anyone who may have seen the man in the area of Pulaski and 103rd Street last Thursday afternoon around 1:45 p.m. to contact the police.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Statistics the ratio of property crimes to violent crimes is higher for elderly victims than younger victims.
One of the most common issues faced by local seniors also occurred recently to another Oak Lawn citizen. A 77 year old Oak Lawn man was conned out of $32,000 by two men he met after shopping at Costco on Cicero Avenue and 73rd Street. The victim told police officers that he was approached by an African American male in the Costco parking lot who asked for a ride to a Food 4 Less store in Burbank.
While the victim was driving the offender, he was asked to stop by a nearby Best Buy store where another offender, also an African American male jumped into the car. Both men were described as being in their 60’s.
The two offenders convinced the victim that they wanted to give him a large sum of money to be donated to charity but wanted to be convinced that the victim had money and would not be tempted to keep their money rather than give it to a charity. In order to prove to the offenders that he had a “nest egg”, the victim drove to his home in Oak Lawn and retrieved a bag with $32,000.
The victim handed the bag to the offenders and then drove, as directed by the offenders, to a Southwest Highway tire store where both men left the car. The victim then checked the bag and found his money had been replaced by a wad of newspaper wrapped in a bandana.
According to the FBI, senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg”, to own their own home and to have excellent credit. Those attributes make them attractive to con artists. The FBI, which monitors fraudulent schemes nationally against seniors has published warnings about similar schemes called advance fee schemes.
According to the FBI’s website on common fraud schemes, “An advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return.”
The FBI site also notes that “the variety of advance fee schemes is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them. They may involve the sale of products or services, the offering of investments, lottery winnings, “found money,” or many other “opportunities.” Clever con artists will offer to find financing arrangements for their clients who pay a “finder’s fee” in advance. They require their clients to sign contracts in which they agree to pay the fee when they are introduced to the financing source. Victims often learn that they are ineligible for financing only after they have paid the “finder” according to the contract. Such agreements may be legal unless it can be shown that the “finder” never had the intention or the ability to provide financing for the victims.”
According to US Census figures, 18% of Oak Lawn’s residents are 65 years or older.