One thing I’m sure that infuriates the sensibilities and decency of every citizen is the targeting of our senior citizens by criminals who perpetrate scams to steal money from them. Of course, to most of our senior citizens, money that is stolen from them also translates into stolen security, stolen comfort, stolen necessities, and stolen futures. To me, the criminal has not only committed the crime of stealing, but also the crime of destroying people’s lives.


The latest incident of this happened recently to an elderly Independence couple who received a call at their home around 10:15 p.m. The caller was a man who identified himself as an Independence Police Officer and insisted the couple, “…come down to the police station on Noland Road for questioning.” Not only had the caller awakened the elderly couple out of bed, but he also went on to threaten them with arrest if they did not do as he said. The couple was terrified by the call, especially when it became threatening, so they got up, dressed, and drove all the way to police headquarters as they were told. Once at the police station, they soon discovered the call they received had not come from a police officer and the likelihood of their home being burglarized before they returned was all too real.


As it turned out in this particular case, the victims of the scam were able to get back home before their home was burglarized. Two police officers escorted them home and checked the residence for safety before the couple went back inside. It is possible not only the home could have been burglarized, but someone could have been in the home waiting for them to return.


Unfortunately, investigation revealed the phone call was untraceable and no other evidence or lead existed to follow.


It is unknown why the victims of this incident did not experience a burglary, or worse, but we do know this type of crime has happened before and will likely be tried again. The lesson to be learned from this incident is that no matter who calls and tries to get someone out of their home, if the caller is unknown, always check the story out before following through on the demand. Real police officers do not normally call people out of bed at night to respond anywhere. If a call like that is ever made by police, take down all of the information, then call the police station back to verify the story. If you have caller ID, write down the number. Ask questions. Find out the caller’s name, badge number, telephone number, and also ask details about what the purpose of the call is.


It is absolutely appropriate to request a uniformed police officer to respond to your home to verify any request or information received from a telephone call. The important thing to remember is to stay calm and think before running with a potential scammer’s story. They are liable to say anything to get a person out of their home, but the victim can quite easily verify the truthfulness of the story by calling the police department to confirm it.


If you have any questions regarding scams, please call Officer Tom Gentry at 816-325-7258 or e-mail to tgentry@indepmo.org.