A second out-of-state man has been charged after prosecutors say they tried extorting thousands of dollars from elderly victims in Lake Forest and Highland Park by impersonating the victims’ family members.
Jason D. Alvarez, 30, of Queens, New York, was charged with one count of theft by deception, a Class 2 felony.
The Highland Park Police Department responded around 2:45 p.m. on October 5 to the 1100 block of Oxford Court in Highland Park for a report of a theft attempt.
The victim reported he received a phone call from a person claiming to be an attorney representing the victim’s daughter, police said.
The purported attorney said the victim’s daughter had been arrested after a serious vehicle crash and needed bond money to be released.
The “attorney” told the victim that a courier would respond to the victim’s residence and pick up the bond money, police said.
The victim, who is a war veteran, went to the bank and withdrew $18,000 in cash. He went to his daughter’s house and learned the entire story was made up.
Highland Park police officers were notified and arrested Alvarez, who was posing as the bail bondsman, hours later when he attempted to collect the cash, prosecutors said.
Luc D. Vautier, 22, of Ocala, Florida, is charged with two counts count of theft by deception, a Class 2 felony, in connection to a very similar offense that occurred on the same day in Lake Forest.
The Lake Forest Police Department was called around 10:36 a.m. on October 5 to the 1200 block of Sheridan Road for a report of elder fraud.
Lake Forest Deputy Police Chief Michael Lange said it was learned the offender, Vautier, was impersonating the victim’s grandson.
Lange said Vautier told the elderly victim he was involved in a traffic crash and had been arrested.
Vautier claimed to the victim that he needed $12,000 to get out of jail, Lange said.
Officers also learned Vautier was coming to the victim’s home to retrieve the money.
Lange said officers located Vautier at the front door of the victim’s residence.
Officers arrested him and detectives also connected Vautier to another similar case in Lake Forest that occurred days prior.
Detectives were assisting other local agencies with additional investigations involving the same exploitation scam.
“The Lake Forest Police Department would like to remind everyone to be very vigilant about scam phone calls of all types and to share this story with elderly family and friends to hopefully prevent future crimes,” Lange said.
While the charges against Vautier and Alvarez are non-detainable under the SAFE-T Act, prosecutors still filed petitions to detain them because they were alleged to be a willful flight risk.
Prosecutors said Vautier admitted to investigators that he collected money and gave it to undisclosed persons. He also said his family members were involved in the scam.
Vautier flew from Miami to the Chicago area and stayed with his family at a hotel in Schaumburg prior to the ruse thefts.
Prosecutors said Vautier and Alvarez are apparently part of an out-of-state theft crew that preys on the elderly.
During subsequent detention hearings, Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak granted the petitions to hold Vautier and Alvarez in the Lake County Jail pending trial after agreeing with prosecutors that they pose a flight risk.