Illinois listed as vulnerable state for scams; Winnebago County officials issue public warning

A ‘Shield Yourself From Scammers’ seminar will be held in mid-September.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 5:42 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Illinois ranks in the top ten of the most financially scammed states according to new data by the Federal Trade Commission. Interestingly, the Land of Lincoln also has the 7th largest population of people 65 or older, who are most at risk to scams. However, because con artists can be so hard to catch, Sheriff Gary Caruana says it’s important to educate residents on the warning signs that a swindler is about to make you their latest target.

“Whatever they offer, whether they try to bully you, whatever they try to sell you, however sweet they sound. It’s too good to be true, don’t go with it,” Caruana said.

Caruana thinks scams, especially on the phone or online, are a huge problem in the area. In fact, he says residents will call his office fearing they are about to get scammed, they are told by his office that the caller is a scammer, but they will still get scammed.

“Get advice, don’t fall for it, because if you feel it, that gut feeling that something is wrong, go with it,” he said.

That’s why the Sheriffs Office is teaming up with River Bluff Nursing Home for a ‘Shield Yourself From Scammers’ seminar.

“We’re seeing more and more scams that they have fallen for and a tremendous amount of money has been stolen from them,” said Laura Doise, Admission and Marketing Director for River Bluff.

Doise says the nursing home is seeing more victims when they conduct their admission assessments.

“They think their grandchild is calling, they’re in trouble, they need to send money, and they’re sending the money,” she told 23 News.

Both Doise and Caruana hope these seminars will help people identify red flags warning that a swindler is nearby, because they can strike at any time.

“Just hang up on them , don’t feel obligated to talk to them they are professionals. There’s professional fraudsters, they are con artists, they are sales people that will con you into everything, hang up,” Caruana urged.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, we could see more and more people succumb to scammers. In fact, fraudsters are using AI to mimic the voices of loved ones, making it even easier to convince the elderly that it is their grandchildren calling for money.

The seminar will be 9:30 a.m. on September 20th at the River Bluff Nursing Home. You must call Doise at 815-921-9278 to RSVP.