Palos Park Police Officer Ross Chibe, shown at a village council meeting in 2021, and the Palos Park force are staying on top of a sextortion scam that has become prevalent. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park Police Officer Ross Chibe, shown at a village council meeting in 2021, and the Palos Park force are staying on top of a sextortion scam that has become prevalent. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park tries to stay ahead of the curve on sextortion scams

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By Jeff Vorva

The Palos Park Police Department is trying to stay ahead of a disturbing trend that has not been talked about publicly very much.

When it comes to the topic of sextortion scams, the Palos Park police are monitoring things very closely and Detective Ross Chibe was called on to provide some wisdom recently on the WGN-TV news.

Sextortion is a scam in which two people meet on a website and the offender will ask for compromising photos of the potential victim. If the victim complies, he or she will be extorted for money so that the offender doesn’t share the photos publicly.

“This is happening more often because there are more and more social networking websites and apps and things like that where victims interact with and communicate with potential offenders on the internet,” Chibe said on a news broadcast. “Usually, it starts very innocent and it’s a normal communication, but these offenders know how to ratchet that up and eventually compromise the victim.”

Palos Park Police Commissioner Dan Polk amplified the seriousness of this scam at Monday’s village council meeting, saying that many victims are too embarrassed to step forward and report these incidents.

“This seems to be a phenomenon that is on the rise and basically, it is blackmail by proxy,” Polk said. “One thing that I have learned was that a majority of victims of this crime are males. Overwhelming. It’s 90 percent.

“The way it works is that they get an unsolicited e-mail from a female, and they start a social media relationship. Then lo-and-behold, the offending person sends a picture generally of a naked girl and asks for one in return.”

Polk said that’s when the trouble begins.

“Usually, the gentleman involved responds in kind and when he does, then there are demands for money to keep the picture from being published,” he said.

Polk said it happens to males under the age of 18 and victims should tell their parents or the police.

“We have a group of people here with the Palos Park Police Department who are interested in helping anybody with anything,” he said. “We have a group of people who are particularly adept at social media issues and crimes, and this is a crime.

“I encourage anyone with any concerns about what may or may not be occurring to please reach out confidentially and we will do our best to try to ameliorate the situation.”

Police Chief Joe Miller said two of his officers, Chibe and Michelle Morano are on a task force that concentrates on internet crimes against children.

“We’ve seen a good number of [victims] walk through here,” Miller said. “Some are children, but one was a 40-some year-old man.

“It’s become a prolific problem.”

Looking for CERT-ain volunteers

Palos Park Police Officer Frank Flores gave an overview of the Community Emergency Response team on Monday and is looking for volunteers for this year’s CERT training.

The program educates community volunteers about disaster preparedness for hazards that may affect the area and trains them in basic disaster response skills.

For more information, contact Flores at fflores@palospark.org.

Other business

  • The council voted to decrease its number of Class G liquor licenses by one after the closing last summer of Gleneagles Country Club.
  • The council approved a contract with Naperville-based Lauterbach and Amen LLP for financial audit services from 2023 through 2025 for $57,000. The average over the three years is lower than the $19,400 the village paid in 2022 because Commissioner G. Darryl Reed said the village’s audit efficiency gains has been improved over the years.
  • Council members approved a $7,758 proposal from Mokena-based Comfort Zone Heating and Cooling to provide maintenance on village-owned buildings.

1 Comment

  1. Catherine Cochrane on January 28, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    Need to have people watch that NetFlix documentary on Hunter Moore. Sickening how this happens.



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