Community Alert: Phone Scams

Community Alert: Phone Scams
Posted on 02/03/2009

The Orland Park Police Department has been receiving reports of telephone scams from residents over the past 2 months. Investigators have identified a variety of fraudulent scams. One is the callers will tell the homeowner that they have won the Publishers Clearing House Lottery and they must pay pre-pay the taxes prior to receiving their awards winnings. The caller then instructs the homeowner to send the tax fees via Western Union or Money Gram to an address in Canada. Another scam is the caller tells the homeowner they have won the Canadian or Jamaican Lottery and again they must pay taxes and processing fees through Western Union or Money Gram, again through an address in Canada, prior to receiving their cash rewards. The most successful scam is the caller contacts the homeowner and claims to be a Law Enforcement Agency in the U.S. or Canada and tells the homeowner they have their grandchild in custody and they need a large cash bond in order to release the grandchild. The caller provides the homeowner with a legitimate grandchild's name and in some cases a subject gets on the phone crying, claiming to be the grandchild. The caller then instructs the homeowner to send bond money via Western Union or Money Gram, to an address in Canada.

The victims in these cases are primarily elderly subjects who live alone. In some cases the caller will also allow the victims to pay using a credit card. Investigators have determined that this is a nationwide scam that has affected numerous jurisdictions throughout the United States. Investigators are working with State and Federal Agencies attempting to track down the individuals responsible.

Here are some indicators of phone scam :
• Unsolicited calls asking if you would like to be in a "lottery pool".
• Mail notifying you that you have already won a substantial sum of money.
• Any request for you to send cash to redeem your prize.
• The caller telling you to keep your winnings secret to avoid tax consequences.
• The best advice is to verify information they provide you and research it thoroughly to determine the legitimacy of the phone call.
The police department warns residents to use caution when receiving these phone calls and remember "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is". Contact your local police agency if you receive these types of calls.

Contact Information: Lt. John Keating 708-364-8108.