Wauconda police warn people about financial scams after local residents, employee lose thousands

  • David Wermes

    David Wermes

Updated 6/13/2019 9:02 PM

Wauconda police are warning people to be cautious with their money after two residents reported losing thousands of dollars to thieves running over-the-phone scams.

A woman who works in Wauconda reported a co-worker was ripped off by a scammer using email, too, police said.


All three thefts were reported within the last week. Police don't believe they're related.

In one case, a 66-year-old man reported losing an estimated $17,000 to a woman who called him and claimed his Social Security number was being used to sell drugs and launder money, police said.

The caller told the victim to send nearly all his money to an address in California. She claimed the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission couldn't accuse him of money laundering or selling drugs if he didn't have any money, police said.

The man was told he'd receive paperwork confirming his cooperation in the investigation and that his money would be returned when the case concluded.

The victim sent the cash, as well as gift cards, police said.

In a separate theft, a 65-year-old woman lost $3,500 after someone claiming to be from a tech support company called and said she owed $400, police said.

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The thief persuaded the woman to install computer software that allowed him to access her computer and bank account.

After the thief seemingly deposited $4,000 in the woman's account, he told her to purchase four Target gift cards totaling $3,500 and give him the card numbers, police said. He said she could keep the difference.

She did as instructed, police said.

The $4,000 deposit turned out to be a cash advance from one of the victim's credit cards.

Police also received a complaint from a woman who works in Wauconda and said a co-worker lost $9,800 in a scam.

The co-worker was persuaded via a fraudulent email to transfer that sum to a different account, the woman reported.

Government agencies and utility companies will never ask for payment via gift cards, police said in a Facebook post Thursday.

Such organizations won't ask for personal information via email or the internet, either.

People also should be wary of anyone asking to access a computer remotely and call police if they suspect they've been contacted by a scammer or have fallen victim to a scam, Chief David Wermes said.

"We would rather take a few minutes to provide helpful information than take hours investigating a crime that could have been prevented by a simple phone call or a conversation at the police department," Wermes said.

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