So I was taking the old and new doggies for a longer walk this fine gray morning, when I noticed a Sheriff’s patrol car sitting at an elderly neighbor’s front door. Fearing the worst because this gentleman lives alone in a large house, I hustled up the long driveway to be sure he was OK.
Thankfully, he saw me walking up the drive, met me at the side door, and let me know that everything was fine. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he said, “I got scammed.” I said I was relieved he was OK and that, when it comes to handling this kind of thing, the Kane County Sheriff’s office was one of the best.
He seemed relieved and went back inside to talk to the deputy.
But as I retreated back to the bike path, I suddenly remembered seeing something semi-suspicious when my wife and I walked by that very house Sunday afternoon. At the time I thought it was odd, but given that general human propensity to ascribe the best of intentions to situations that don’t make sense, I didn’t do any more than make a mental note of it.
Armed with this new information, it really bothered me that I hadn’t grabbed my cellphone and taken a picture of that previous suspicious vehicle. So I called the Sheriff’s office, told them my story, and they asked me to pop by and discuss it with the officer involved.
About a half hour later I was speaking with Deputy Chris Ruchaj, one of the nicest law enforcement officers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. After duly noting my suspicions, he let me know that they were dealing with a version of the grandmother scam.
For the uninitiated, this particular con consists of a predator calling an elderly victim while purporting to be their grandson in dire need of bail money. The perp never actually uses a name. They simply say “it’s your grandson” and wait for the victim to reply “Is that you Johnny?” Then they beg the “grandparent” to send them money and not to divulge this sensitive information to their “parents.”
So while I was somewhat relieved that what my wife and I witnessed likely had nothing to do with the actual scam, I did ask the deputy if he’d be willing to drive by the house and keep an eye out for a particular vehicle.
Of course, he said he would, and then he thanked me for looking out for a senior citizen. But while walking back to my car I couldn’t help but think, “Isn’t that something we all should be doing?” We all have those elderly neighbors who, despite their fierce desire to remain independent, would greatly benefit from an extra pair of attentive eyes.
It’s so easy to do and many times that’s all it takes to keep things right where they need to be. If you do suspect something like a scam, please call the Sheriff’s office because they have an entire division that deals with that kind of thing.
And you know what? From now on, whenever I see something that doesn’t seem quite right, I’m whipping out the Galaxy S3 and taking a picture. And if I happen to offend someone in the process, no worries, I’ll just add ‘em to the long list of people I’ve already managed to completely aggravate.
Apparently, the capacity to irritate people is part of my vast and boundless charm.