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Hinsdale Resident, 91, Scammed out of $7,800

It's the second time this month that an elderly Hinsdale resident was scammed by people posing over the phone as contest officials.

A 91-year-old Hinsdale resident was the victim of a phone scam that cost him $7,800 in the form of prepaid credit cards and money orders, police said, a total that could have been higher had a bank employee not identified the scam before more money was sent.

The resident told police that during a two-week timeframe he was contacted several times over the phone by two unknown people, one male and one female, who told him he had won $150,000 and a new car.  The pair told the resident that in order to recoup the prizes, police said, he had to send several large money orders and purchase numerous prepaid credit cards.

Deputy Chief Mark Wodka said that sometime on or around Jan. 22, the resident purchased 11 pre-paid credit cards at Walgreen's worth a combined $4,400, and provided the card numbers to the scammers.

The victim also, at the direction of the scammers, sent via a Hinsdale bank two money orders on Jan. 22—one worth $1,000 and another worth $2,400. He was in the process of sending a third that same day when an employee of the bank identified the scam and alerted police.

"The actions of the bank employee are becoming more common in financial institutions to protect customers who may be losing to the influence of the scams," Wodka said in an emailed statement. 

Though police have documentation for $7,800 in losses, Wodka said the resident estimated his total loss from the scam to be around $8,500.

The deputy chief said there was a chance at the time of the report that the money orders and credit cards could be canceled before the money loss became real. He was uncertain Tuesday about the status of the loss.

The two addresses to which the money orders were sent were different, and both were out-of-state. The victim told police, Wodka said, that the scammers seemed to have a Jamaican accent.

A similar "contest" phone scam was reported to Hinsdale Police by an 82-year-old victim on Jan. 8. That resident lost $3,000.

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"[They're] almost identical," Wodka said of the two cases.

Police also put out a release last August providing tips on how to avoid being victimized by such scams.

The latest case is under investigation.

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Jim Szudarek January 31, 2013 at 05:56 PM
HANG UP THE PHONE ANY and EVERY TIME SOME ONE ASKS YOU FOR MONEY. [ PERIOD].
Michael Dwells February 02, 2013 at 04:20 AM
$7,800 is just a lot of money to lose to a scammer! I've read a similar case reported at http://www.callercenter.com and I could not think of a scam more sophisticated, complex, cruel and more persistent than this one. It's sad that these seniors have to lose their money for nothing but what makes the situation sadder is that the victims actually believed the scammers were their friends until they find out they were deceived.

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