File Photo – Lake Zurich Police Department | Photo: Nick Rusin

Police say a 51-year-old Lake Zurich woman lost over $1.5 million after she sent the money to a phone scammer who was impersonating a police officer.

The case was reported to the Lake Zurich Police Department around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Lake Zurich Deputy Police Chief Colin Gaffney said a 51-year-old woman, who resides in Lake Zurich, was the victim of a lengthy several-month phone scam.

Gaffney said an unknown caller claimed to be a police officer in China investigating a criminal matter.

The woman was continuously told to wire money to various accounts in order to avoid prosecution.

Gaffney said the transfers took place over approximately five months and totaled $1.58 million.

“Unfortunately, crimes like this have been documented for some time,” Gaffney said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is assisting in the case.

In April 2023, the FBI issued a public service announcement about criminals posing as Chinese authorities to target the US-based Chinese community.

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The scammers tell victims they are suspects in financial crimes and threaten them with arrest or violence if they do not pay.

“Criminals exploit widely publicized efforts by the People’s Republic of China government to harass and facilitate repatriation of individuals living in the United States to build plausibility for their fraud,” the FBI alert said.

Criminals typically call victims, sometimes using spoofed numbers to appear as if the call is from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, one of its localized Public Security Bureaus or a US-based Chinese Consulate.

They may also communicate through online applications.

The FBI said the scammers may show victims fraudulent documents as proof of the accusations, including realistic-looking arrest warrants or intricate details about alleged criminal schemes.

They may also display basic knowledge of the victim to appear more legitimate, the FBI said.

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The FBI asks victims to report these types of fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.