An elderly couple has been staying at home to avoid becoming sick with COVID-19. They both have underlying health conditions and are concerned that they are at a greater risk. They have lived in the same house in a Chicago suburb for over 50 years, and most of their children have moved across the country. On Monday, they received an urgent cell phone call from someone pretending to be their grandchild.
The person stated that he was in a serious car accident and needed his grandparents to send $5,000 to him urgently to get his car repaired. The person said that if he did not get his car repaired, he would not be able to keep his job and buy food for their great-grandchild, a toddler. Only after they sent the $5,000 did they realize they had been defrauded.
Holiday Scams Involving the Elderly are on the Rise
Unfortunately, this elderly couple is not alone. Many of us let our guards down during the holidays and are more likely to be scammed during this busy time of year. The AARP recently conducted a study in which they found that approximately 20% of Connecticut adults could not pass a five-question quiz regarding their ability to identify red flags for scam artists.
In other words, 80% of adults surveyed could not correctly identify red flags associated with fraudulent scams. Scammers count on people being too busy to pay attention to these red flags during the holidays.
The most commonly used holiday scams involve gift cards. Because many legitimate charity organizations contact people during the holidays and request financial support, elderly individuals are less likely to question calls asking for gift cards or a money wire. The scammers will state that they are from a legitimate charity and request a donation. As many as a third of the people surveyed by AARP stated that they had received a donation request for a charity group they thought to be fraudulent in the past.
Facing Charges for Defrauding the Elderly
Illinois is one of many states that has actively passed legislation to protect senior citizens from financial exploitation. The Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person Act Imposes civil and criminal penalties on people who take advantage of elderly people over 60 or those with disabilities. This law allows law enforcement agencies to pursue criminal charges against those suspected of exploiting these vulnerable groups.
The defendant charged with financial exploitation of an elderly individual is subject to penalties and possible jail time. Additionally, the victim’s family has a right to bring a civil lawsuit against the person who allegedly committed the crime to recover the stolen property’s value and additional damages.
Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been the victim of fraud or you are facing criminal fraud charges and you need a lawyer, experience matters. Contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation.