Dent scammers are at work in the suburbs. Here's what you should know
Picture yourself driving home from the store, minding your own business, when another driver urges you to pull over because your vehicle is damaged.
You stop and, before you know it, that supposed good Samaritan is at work "fixing" the purported dents with something that looks like a suction cup. Then he's aggressively demanding payment for the work, and you end up handing over a couple hundred dollars to make him go away.
Sound far-fetched? Perhaps, but that's what happened to a woman in Schaumburg last weekend -- and it's part of a recently trending swindle known as the "parking lot dent scam."
Schaumburg police Sgt. Matthew Christenson confirmed the woman's report and said an investigator has been assigned to the case. The scam has been around for a couple of years, but the report from last Friday is the only one the department has received recently, he said.
"The scammer will pick out a victim and sometimes dent the car before the victim notices," Christenson said, adding that seniors often are targets. "Then they'll start doing the work while the victim is still deciding if they want it done."
According to a Better Business Bureau alert, victims often wind up with a vehicle in worse shape than when the scammer approached. That's because the scammer isn't really fixing the dent -- just pretending long enough to trick a target and demand payment.
One victim told the BBB that the scammer drilled a bunch of holes into the car's body, covered it with putty and told the victim to wait 24 hours before removing it. When the victim took off the putty, the damage was more evident than before.
What should you do if approached? The BBB says be wary of unsolicited offers. If you're approached by a stranger offering repair services of any kind, be careful, ask questions and request a business card. Tell the stranger you want to check to see if he or she is legitimate.
And don't fall for high-pressure tactics. If someone demands full payment upfront and insists that you'll never get a better price anywhere else, it's a red flag. High-pressure, now-or-never sales tactics are a hallmark of scams, according to the BBB.
Set the record straight
If a past misdeed is messing up your future, you can get some help wiping the slate clean this month.
Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Theresa Barreiro, Prairie State Legal Services and the Kane County Bar Association are teaming up to host an expungement clinic from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin for people who have convictions in Kane County.
To register, visit attend.gailborden.info/events or sign up in person at the library, 270 N. Grove Ave.
The McHenry County Bar Association and Prairie State will host another clinic from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 29, at the Michael J. Sullivan Justice Center, 2200 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock. Registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/nbseh34b.
Volunteer attorneys will inform attendees about their options when it comes to expunging or sealing portions of their criminal records and teach them how they can do it.
Under state law, a person can have records of an arrest or criminal charge erased if there wasn't a conviction. Those convicted of most crimes -- serious felonies and domestic violence are among the exceptions -- can seek to have the record sealed from everyone other than law enforcement, the court and certain employers.
Also this month, the McHenry County circuit clerk's office is hosting Amnesty Week, during which people can settle their court debts by paying the original amount due before their cases were turned over to collections. It'll take place Sept. 25-29. Payments can be made online at www.mchenrycircuitclerk.org or in person at the circuit clerk's office in Woodstock.
Dad's conviction upheld
A state appeals court has upheld the conviction and 12-year prison sentence for an Aurora man found guilty of severely injuring his 2-month-old daughter during a fit of jealousy in 2021.
In its unanimous decision, the Second District Appellate Court rejected Brian Clemente's argument that Kane County prosecutors failed to prove that the infant's injuries weren't caused by other people who had access to her on the day she was hurt.
The court noted that a doctor who treated the child testified that medical evidence indicates the injuries were inflicted shortly before they were discovered.
"During this crucial period, defendant was the only adult in exclusive control over (the girl), and there was no indication or evidence that an unknown person entered the house," Justice Ann B. Jorgensen wrote.
Prosecutors say the child was injured after Clemente and his girlfriend argued over another man contacting her. Doctors who treated the girl said she suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain, causing developmental delays and post-traumatic epilepsy.
• Do you have a tip or a comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.