Apparently scamming elderly folks is big business. So big in fact, according to a Bankrate.com article, many in their golden years are being swindled out of some $2.6 billion per year. With this in mind, adult children should keep as close an eye out on aging parents as possible. Knowing health and mental acuity diminishes with age scammers may have your parents in their sight. It could be just a matter of time before they pounce. When and if they do, it could wreak financial havoc on the entire family.
Scammers and shysters come after the elderly from all directions. Stay alert without appearing to snoop. Keep the line of communication open in hope you will be kept in the loop if something is going on. Remind the elderly person(s) to not believe everything in print or that smooth talker over the phone. If something sounds too good to be true it usually is.
Scams aimed at the elderly abound. Here are just a few noted in the Bankrate.com article: The grandparents scheme, The discount prescription scam, The credit card company fraud call, The ‘Help for Haiti’ hustle, and The fake lottery/sweepstakes scam. Knowledge is power. Please share with the elderly loved one(s) in your life.
An abbreviated cautionary tale of the fake lottery/sweepstakes scam
According to written accounts no one quite knows how the elderly couple landed on the ‘super sucker list’ or how they ended up being ‘reloaded’ again and again. No matter how it started by the time the pair’s children became suspicious their elderly parents were knee-deep in the scam’s quagmire and sinking ever deeper.
His voice could melt butter. A guy Miriam and Charles Parker knew only as Howard. Over the phone he dazzled Miriam with terms such as ‘dear’ and ‘sweetheart’ and promised the couple riches from a sweepstakes they had supposedly won. There were just those pesky taxes that needed to be taken care of. So December 08, 2004, Miriam Parker, an 80-year-old mother and grandmother wired a MoneyGram to Montreal Quebec. By May 2005 the Parkers’ once hefty savings was depleted.
Between ’04 and ‘08 Mrs. Parker was a scammer’s dream. A ‘money mule’ at one point receiving and repackaging $60,000 in cash in just over a week. An unwitting, albeit desperate, participant in the victimization of elderly folks like her as the money flowed straight to the coffer of scammers in Montreal. Apparently Miriam got a commission but never the riches she’d been promised.
On April 2007 in Montreal, ‘Howard Clark’, real name, Clayton Atkinson, scheming of the elderly came to a screeching halt. A federal grand jury in Raleigh, North Carolina, handed up a 35-count indictment against Atkinson and two co-defendants. The three were charged with one count each of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property, seven counts of wire fraud and 26 counts of mail fraud.
Unfortunately, Charles passed away before the trail. The couple wasn’t the only victims. In her victim impact statement, their daughter, Donna Parker, ran down the list: The adult children had to pay off their parents’ credit card debt; cash in insurance policies; liquidate stocks, and even take out a mortgage.
Even worse than the financial loss was taking her parents to court, and the resentment it had caused. “To this day,” she said, still referring to her father in the present tense, “they are convinced that their family deprived them of their right to prizes and lottery winnings.” Additionally, she feared her mother would be victimized again.
“The sad thing is, I know my family is not unique,” she said. “Scammers who prey on the elderly are a blight on society.”
In this dog eat dog world, the elderly are an endangered species. Please do your part to protect them. Pass along this info and any other as gentle reminder to stay ever alert, on guard, against predators out to part them from their hard earned money.