Linda Glackin, President, Peoria County TRIAD, and Coordinator of Victim Services, Peoria Police Department
In the past, we have focused on alerting you to simple frauds and scams generally perpetrated by strangers. For the next few months, we are taking a more serious turn to discuss crimes committed upon you by people you know. These crimes are more serious in nature and include "theft by deception", "forgery", "aggravated identity theft", "financial exploitation of the elderly", "aggravated battery to a senior citizen", "criminal abuse or neglect of an elderly person", "unlawful restraint" and the most heinous, murder.
Research and experience shows that often the most financially and physically devastating offenses are committee by someone known to the victim. That relationship can range from a "new found friend", to a family member, to a neighbor, to a friend of an acquaintance, to the child of a friend and even a spouse. The person maybe someone you have known for decades or only a few weeks.
This month and next month we are going to focus on the "new found friend". While there seems to be some common themes among this type of perpetrator, please remember that not all are exactly alike.
Some of them are more experienced, having run their scam on many seniors. They may be looking for a large financial gain that includes a seniors life savings. They are predators. Another may be looking for someone who can help them out financially because they have been having lots of troubles. They "need" money for groceries, rent, child care, but what they really "want" is money for drugs, alcohol or a new car. They are opportunists.
While there is no absolute predictor, what we want to give you are some warning signs or red flags to look for when a "new found friend" approaches you.
There are generally two profiles; each based on the gender of the "new found friend". A female "new found friend" may approach you at bingo, in a parking lot, at church, on the bus, or even be introduced to you by another acquaintance. She may be someone you have seen before but never really got to know.
She is needy. Her rent is due and she just lost her job. She needs a new car, to get a job to get her kids back from DCFS. She may offer to help you out by running errands, cleaning house, and providing companion care for you. She will offer to pay you back. She plays on your emotions. She makes a quick connection to you. She may say that you remind her of her mother, a favorite grandfather, an aunt or an uncle. She "knew" the minute she met you that you were a kind person.
Her scam may begin with little hints that she could use some financial assistant from you. However, when you begin to provide for her financially, her troubles seem to multiply and so will her need for your financial assistance.
The stories she tells are based on getting a sentimental, emotional reaction from you. The relationship between you grows very quickly. You may feel an emotional attachment to her. That is her goal. She will want you to be emotionally attached and possible dependent on her. If you have family nearby, she may begin to isolate you from your family. She will point out little flaws in your family and how they care for you. She will "promise" that you will never end-up in a nursing home. She becomes the person that you need. She has advanced from "new found friend" to "trusted best friend".
Your new friend is now financially set - all based on your finances. Next month we will continue to look at your "new found friend" who is really a criminal who has financially deceived and exploited you.
For more information on Triad or for victim assistance, please contact: in the City of Peoria, Linda Glackin, 494-8309; in the County of Peoria, Beth Bernard, 697-7855.