Category: Senior Scams

Senior Scams – Walking Around Scams

In this blog I want to write about an experience that was related to me by an elderly woman, Mrs. N. Several years ago Mrs. N. was stopped on the street by an older man with a foreign accent and a younger man who appeared American.  The younger man asked her if she was aware of a local church, the Holy Child Church of Queens.  Mrs. N., a religious woman, wasn’t aware of the church.  It was explained to her that the older man was from Ghana and had a large financial gift he was bringing to donate to this church.  He indicated a “bag of money” that he was carrying.  The younger man said that he had just met the older one and was helping him.  Mrs. N. actually got into a taxi with these men and they went to the address of the Holy Child Church of Queens.  Of course, there was no church there.  The older man began to fret and said that he had a plane to catch but was determined to give his donation to a local church and asked Mrs. N. if she belonged to one.  She said yes and agreed to receive the money which she would bring to her church the next day.  The “bag of money” was opened and she saw stacks of $20.00 bills.  It was explained to her that to show “good faith” she must take money out of her checking account and give it to the elderly man.  They took her to her bank and she withdrew everything she had in her checking account, about $2500.  This money was exchanged for the “bag of money.”  She took the “bag of money” home and found that the top stacks of bills were cut up newspaper with one $20.00 bill on the top of each.  The two men had vanished with her$2500.00 which she had voluntarily given her.

Today, with copying costs so low and copying machines so good, the stacks of money could have easily been made of counterfeit bills, much more convincing. Mrs. N. was angry and humiliated and could barely relate this story.  She wondered if she should be allowed out by herself, anymore.  She had given away almost all her savings and didn’t understand what possessed her to do so.

This is clearly an extreme story, but it happens regularly enough that scammers are continuing to do it. Elderly victims may be too embarrassed to report it or feel that it would be useless to do so as the scammers and the money are gone.  My concern was also that these scammers had stolen Mrs. N.’s self -confidence, as well.

What is the moral of such a story? Again, there is no free money.  No one is running around giving away wads of cash.  IT DOESN’T HAPPEN so if it appears to be happening, it’s most likely a scam and don’t fall for it.  The “good faith” request for money is a clear give-away, but any promise of money for nothing is also one.  If someone promises you something, walk away quickly.

Seniors Beware of Scams! Nigerian Princes.

By this time, almost anyone who has email has received a solicitation that a foreign potentate or a family member of such, needs to remove money from their country (usually Nigerian, but many others as well) and wishes for your to assist them in exchange for a significant share in the wealth.   There are a variety of stories, but they essentially boil down to a request for your banking information in order to “deposit” money into your account.

It is amazing to me that anyone actually fell for this scam, but evidently enough people did for this to go on for at least a decade. What people seem to forget is that what can go in to your account can also go out. In other words, if someone has your banking information they can withdraw money as well as deposit it.

What motivated people to fall for this? .  Anyone thinking about this seriously for a moment or two would realize that no one is going to deposit huge amounts of money in your account (a relative stranger) and trust you to give most of it back.  And, huge deposits of this sort would certainly alert banking and government authorities to investigate in case of crime, terrorism or drugs.  But greed can make people stupid, as we shall see in future blogs.  And, sometimes the “story” is that the “person” writing to you is being victimized in some dreadful way and that they are a Christian in a non-Christian community begging for help.  Deeply religious people may feel that it is their duty to help, and the possible payoff is only a further inducement.

The response to any such request is to ignore it. No stranger is the world is going to deposit substantial amounts of money in your account, no matter how pretty the words are in the accompanying letter.

These days, most people have heard of this gambit and are unlikely to fall for it and anyway, most of these letters will find themselves in your “spam” file. But it is worth noting as this was the first widespread internet scam.  I received one just a week before writing this.  My hope is that as we explore this world of swindles you will learn to catch on to new ones, even without the warnings.

In the following blogs in this series we will look at a number of common scams.

Whether a scam artist approaches you by email, text (rare), telephone or snail mail (also rare) the best thing to do is ignore, delete and Don’t Worry about it!”

(1) Seniors; Beware of Scams

It seems like every time you turn around, there is some new type of scam to take advantage of you and separate you from your money. In this series, I will talk about types of scams and what to do about them.  I will be focusing on senior scams, because older people are less aware of these fraudulent actions and more likely to be victimized by them.  The response, in most cases, should be the same:  “Don’t respond!”

Scam artists take advantage of our insecurity, ignorance, loneliness and greed. This series of blogs can do something about the first two (insecurity and ignorance) but relatively little about the third and fourth (loneliness and greed) except to remind you that very little is free in this world.  The probability that your soulmate is waiting for you in Jamaica or that a Kenyan millionaire is eager to give you millions of dollars is unlikely in the extreme.  ANY stranger asking for money is likely to be doing so under false pretenses.  Here is a sample scame.

This scam is perpetrated through a phone call informing you that you owe the IRS money and that if you do not respond it will be an indication that you are blatantly violating your responsibilities and that severe action will be taken. Late in 2015, I received three of these solicitations in a week.  The first time it happened it briefly alarmed me, until I realized that the IRS NEVER calls.  The second and third times I erased the messages without a thought.  I did, however, inform ALL my senior patients to be on the alert for such calls and a surprising number had already received them.  I take the opportunity, here, to warn you readers, as well.  Ignore these calls.  Hang up if someone attempts to shake you down in the name of a government agency.  If you owe money, you will be alerted through a letter, not a phone call.

Whether a scam artist approaches you by email, text (rare), telephone or snail mail (also rare) the best thing to do is ignore, delete and Don’t Worry about it!”

[If you are a family member or close friend reading this, it is important to alert the senior to the scam.]

11. How Patients See Home Health Aides – The Aide (or Patient) as Bully

Continuing the theme of Concerns and Issues with home health aides, I would like to talk in this post about bullying. A very …

10. How Patients See Home Health Aides – The Aide as Persecutor (3)

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9. How Patients See Home Health Aides – The Aide as Persecutor (2)

In this blog we will continue talking about ways in which aides can impair the lives of their charges. Aide as Reorganizer …