Two women were arrested after claiming they lost their home in a fire in order to deceive an elderly man into repeatedly giving them money, police said.
At 1:30 p.m. Monday, Rachel Tan, 49, of the 900 block of Whitlock Avenue in Marietta, Georgia, and Sophia Johns, 28, of the 5200 block of West 79th Street in Burbank both were arrested and charged with theft by deception.
Shorewood Deputy Police Chief Jason Barten said in an email that Tan and Johns initially met with the alleged victim, a man in his 70s, at a grocery store and lied to him about losing their home in a fire. Tan and Johns asked for money, claiming they were in need of shelter and food, Barten said.
The man provided them a small sum of money along with his phone number in case they needed further assistance, Barten said, and over the next 24 hours, he allegedly was contacted by them on several occasions with more requests for money. The man withdrew additional funds to help them, he said.
“With each request for assistance, the amount of money required increased,” Barten said.
An adult child of the man contacted the police after becoming aware of the incident and growing concerned the elderly man was the victim of theft or financial exploitation.
The Shorewood police learned of a potential meeting between the women and the victim where more money was to be provided, Barten said. Officers then met with Tan and Johns and determined their story was false, he said.
Both women were taken to the Will County jail after their arrest.