WATSEKA — The Iroquois County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about reported phone scams targeting the elderly in the county.
In a news release, the sheriff’s office said residents recently have reported that they have received phone calls from persons claiming to be a relative, usually a grandchild, who has either been involved in an accident or arrested. The callers ask that no other family members be told about it.
The callers, who may identify themselves as a police officer or government employee, request that money be wired via Western Union or Money Gram, or that iTunes gift cards be purchased from CVS or Walmart. The callers request that they be called back once the wire transfer has been completed or for the resident to provide information from the back of the iTunes cards.
Callers have also identified themselves as employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration, who explain that there was an issue with the resident’s tax return or Social Security. The callers request the resident provide personally identifiable information such as their Social Security number, middle initial or date of birth. The callers then ask the resident to complete a wire transfer through Western Union or Money Gram or buy iTunes gift cards and provide the information on the back of the cards as a form of payment to avoid any further “legal trouble.”
A third type of scam involves callers advising the resident that a warrant has been issued for their arrest. The callers request that the resident again send money via Western Union or other means to quash the warrant.
Internet purchase scams have also been reported in which an item is sold far below market value. Often, the seller requests that the buyer send money via Western Union or similar wire transfer. The seller will also offer to ship the item to the purchaser through a shipping company and request additional money that will be returned to the buyer upon delivery. The seller will also send official-looking emails to the buyer that appear to be from eBay Motors, etc., during the transaction.
Residents are urged not to send money via Western Union or to buy the iTunes cards in these instances. Once the money has been sent, it is highly unlikely that law enforcement will be able to recover it, the sheriff’s office said. Residents are urged to contact family members or the police if they have any questions about suspicious callers.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is,” the sheriff’s office said.