Scammers pose as police trying to use elderly couple’s grandson as bait
Edgewater couple shares scam story in hopes of helping others avoid making similar mistakes
CHICAGO — Chicago area residents may want to be on the lookout for a scam where callers pose as police and ask for large amounts of cash to bail out a family member due to an alleged crime they committed.
Dick and Nancy Merrill, who are residents in Edgewater, were on the receiving end of such a phone call. The scammer said their 14-year-old grandson—Sam—needed $18,800 to be bailed out of jail in the next 24 hours after he allegedly took a car without permission and hit a pregnant woman.
“The phone rang and a child was sobbing,” said Nancy. ” … they said this is your grandson calling from the police department.”
The scammer was detailed. He gave the Merrills an officer’s name, which station their grandson was being held at, and a case number to help sell the scam.
Nancy took notes and called her daughter-in-law, Kate Merrill, who told Nancy and Dick that she thought it was a scam.
“I said come in and sit down, tell me what’s going on,” said Kate. “I was more nervous for their health during all this because they were so upset about it and so shaken.”
Kate called Sam and told him to meet the three of them in-person at Dick and Nancy’s house to make sure he was okay.
“Sam came over to our house with his bicycle,” said Dick. “He got off that bicycle and I gave him the biggest hug.”
After seeing Sam was safe and sound, Kate called the scammer back and was able to poke holes in his story by asking questions about where Sam was at. The scammer panicked and hung up.
“If anyone asks you for money, just don’t give it,” Kate said.
If you are unsure if you or someone you know may be the victim of a phone scam, the Chicago Police Department has some tips for how to handle scammers who are posing as government employees over the phone.
Those affected by phone scams can also file an online crime report with the Chicago PD on their website.
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