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.