Two women were arrested and charged by Forest Park investigators for attempting to scam $1,000 from a 70-year-old woman after one of the offenders allegedly posed as a Nigerian who received insurance settlement money after losing a relative in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.
Police said they believe there could be other victims of the scam who have not yet come forward.
Investigators arrested Dianah V. Burton, 70, of Chicago and Beverly D. Jackson, 59, of Chicago at about 12:20 p.m. Feb. 3 in Chicago. Jackson was charged with two felony counts of theft by deceptive practice and Burton was charged with one count of theft by deceptive practice.
Forest Park police were called about the scam at 1:10 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2015. The scam reportedly occurred in the parking lot of Walmart, 1300 Desplaines Avenue.
The victim told police she was walking to her vehicle when she was approached by a woman with an accent. The victim told police that the woman who approached her, later identified as Jackson, told her she was from Africa and that she had received settlement money for her uncle, who she claimed was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
Jackson was carrying letters that supposedly confirmed her large cash settlement and also a letter from her African village’s high priest saying it was dangerous to bring the money back home. Instead she was told to give the money to charity.
A second woman, later identified as Burton, then approached and asked the victim to help the woman. Police said Jackson allegedly told them both that she wanted to give half her money to each of them and asked that they in turn give half of that money away to charity.
However, Jackson allegedly said she wanted proof that they had money in the bank and were trustworthy. The victim told police that Burton then allegedly offered to go to her bank and withdraw cash to show she was trustworthy.
Eventually, Jackson and Burton drove the victim to her bank, where she withdrew $1,000 and handed it to Jackson. But after Jackson and Burton walked away after telling the victim they would place the victim’s share of the settlement money in the victim’s trunk, the victim came to believe she was being scammed.
As the both alleged offenders walked away to a waiting vehicle, the victim followed and demanded her money back. The money was returned to her and the vehicle drove away.
Jackson reportedly later told police the victim’s money was returned because she made a scene, and Burton allegedly told Jackson to return the woman’s money because she didn’t want to run.
Police analyzed video footage from a red-light camera at Harlem Avenue and Roosevelt Road to identify the vehicle Jackson and Burton left in. Police also analyzed surveillance footage from the Walmart parking lot, various banks and other locations Jackson and Burton stopped at.
A second vehicle was also identified by police as used in the scam during their investigation. The identification of both vehicles helped lead police to Jackson and Burton, according to police reports.
Police said they eventually tracked Jackson and Burton to Chicago through their investigation.
After their arrest, police said Jackson admitted to officers that they were targeting elderly victims for their scam in Forest Park, as well as other unknown locations.
Police said they believe Jackson was involved in similar scams in Forest Park in November 2015 and November 2013. Burton was not always involved in the scams, police allege. An unknown man was allegedly involved in the November 2015 scam.
At the time of Jackson’s arrest, police said she was carrying a black case with what appeared to hold bundles of money inside. Police said a $100 bill was placed on top of the bundles, with the rest being comprised of single dollar bills or fake bank notes.
As a warning to the community, Forest Park Deputy Chief Mike Keating said that the public should be aware of such scams and be skeptical of all offers of money.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Keating said.