So, I don’t advertise this information, but I am 48 years old. The age part doesn’t bother me. I am married and have two beautiful children. I love my parents and siblings very much.
But what does bother me is watching my parents get older. Watching them struggle. Watching them decline. No matter what belief system you have or hope for the future, anyone who has to witness their parents get older and struggle or deal with issues they handled before but not find hard breaks your heart.
It all came to a head the other day when my sweet father was on the computer, and he gets a message sent him saying he needed to call the bank as someone has hacked into his account. He decides to call the number and the thief (I could use many other choice words, but my blogs are supposed to be rated G) pretended to be the bank and proceeded to defraud my father and mother of $1800.
What makes matters worse is when I was calling my parents to check on them, and they would not pick up. Finally, when I get my mother on the phone, she tells me what is happening, but it didn’t make sense. She felt this was a con, but my father wanted to handle it. It comes to a point to where you ask yourself, how much control or power do you weld over your parents? Do you scold them like a child? No, you can’t. All you do is support, counsel and help them. I didn’t need to yell or show my anger or frustration. What was I going to accomplish with that?
Well, the damage was done. My father was swindled into purchasing $1800 worth of gift cards from Walgreens. The thieves knew they couldn’t be traced once that was done and on top of that, my father bought them. According to the police, he voluntarily bought the gift cards even though coercion was used.
My father felt terrible when he realized what happened and what he had done. I have never believed in kicking someone when they are down. I can’t say I have always acted that way and have blown my top, but this time I didn’t. I couldn’t. He was hurting so much, and my mother was frustrated.
So why am I telling you this? Because I want to do all I can to protect other elderly parents against these degenerates. Below is an article you can read in your spare time, but I am going to list the ways the elderly is being targeted.
Elder Abuse: Financial Scams Against Seniors Elder Abuse: Financial Scams Against Seniors | Nolo
Catfishing scam. Catfishing is when someone steals from a person that they’ve ‘met’ online. Today, many seniors turn to online services and social media to make romantic or friendly connections. These scammers may endear themselves to the elderly person — and then ask them for money to help with an emergency like to bail them out of jail or make a flight back to the United States. Most often, scammers will never meet the elderly person and are actually located someplace other than where they claimed to be.
Telemarketing or mail fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that dishonest telemarketers take in an estimated $40 billion each year, bilking one in six American consumers — and the AARP claims that about 80% of them are 50 or older. Scammers use the phone to conduct investment and credit card fraud, lottery scams, and identity theft.
Phishing scam. Phishing is when a criminal uses fake emails, calls, or texts to steal a victim’s personal information. In one common phishing scam, an elderly person will receive an email that says it is from the person’s bank or investment account and that the elder needs to update their information. This is really just a ploy to get the elder’s information and steal their identity.
Social Security spoofing scam. Scammers contact elderly people by phone and claim that the victim’s Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity and asks the victim to confirm their number or risk the possibility that the number will be seized. REMEMBER, SOCIAL SECURITY DOES NOT CALL YOU!
Internet fraud. Some older people are slow to embrace new technology, which is why they are sometimes targeted in internet scams. Seniors may download a fake anti-virus program or viruses by clicking on pop-up windows. This action allows scammers to extract personal information about the senior.
Fraudulent legal documents. Many scammers cloak their actions in legal authority, procuring a power of attorney or will or other legal document giving them access to a senior’s property. They get seniors to sign these documents by lying to, intimidating, or threatening the seniors.
Texting scam. A scammer texts the victim deceptive messages to try to get the elder person to provide their personal or financial information. For example, the scammer might promise a prize to the first 100 people who respond to the message. The scammer then uses the information to steal the elder’s identity or to commit fraud.
Grandparent scam. In this situation, a scammer calls the elderly person and pretends to be their grandchild. The grandchild will then ask for money for an unexpected financial problem like not having money for rent, medical bills, or car repairs. The scammer will plead with the grandparent not to tell their parent.
Undue influence or fraud. Many seniors have been duped into parting with their homes or other property because a scammer convinces them it is for their own good. In one infamous case, three officials from the Detroit-based Guardian Inc. were found guilty of embezzlement and fraud after selling a client’s house for $500 — to the mother of a company officer. The company also collected excessive fees from its wards, sometimes as high as 70 percent of their Social Security checks.
Lottery scam. Scammers inform elderly victims that they have won the lottery or sweepstakes — but they just need to pay for taxes or other fees before the rest of the money will be released. They might even send a check to the victim to make it seem more real, but the check will just bounce.
In one of these scams in Canada, the U.S. Attorney General and the Solicitor General of Canada estimated that scammers were able to steal about $1 billion a year from its citizens.
Home repair scam. Typically working in teams of two or more, scammers scour neighborhoods with a high concentration of older residents, or even track recent widows and widowers through obituaries and death notices, then appear on their doorsteps claiming to spot something in need of fixing — a hole in the roof or clogged drainpipe, for example.
The scammers demand payment upfront, and then often claim that their initial investigation reveals a more serious problem, with a more expensive solution. The “work” they do is unlicensed and often shoddy, such as applying paint to a roof to make it appear as if it has been tangibly fixed.
In a twist on this scam, one alleged worker might distract the elder while another enters the house to steal money and other valuables.
Okay so now that we know some of the scams out there. Here are some signs you can look for to make sure your loved ones are not in the process of being victimized:
Telltale Signs a Loved One is Being the Victim of Elder Abuse.
- Unusual or large withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts, or large credit card charges that the older person can’t explain.
- Checks that are missing or include suspicious signatures.
- An individual who suddenly forms a close relationship with the older person, getting easy access to his or her home, money, and other property.
- Newly executed documents, such as a will or power of attorney, that the older person doesn’t seem to understand.
- Changes in account beneficiaries or authorized signers.
- A large number of unpaid bills.
- Missing property.
- Entry forms and prizes from contests, and payments made for “free” vacations or other merchandise.
- Untreated physical or mental problems, including a dramatic change in mood or disposition, or other evidence of substandard care.
- Sudden social isolation.
Where to Report Suspected Financial Abuse
There are now a number of individuals and groups dedicated to investigating suspected financial abuse and finding and stopping perpetrators. Here are some options for taking action.
Notify bank personnel. Depending on the type and extent of financial abuse involved, giving a heads up to the bank tellers and officers who commonly handle the elder’s accounts may be enough to stop the wrongdoing. Bank employees are often in a good position to note suspicious activity, such as a sudden withdrawal of large sums of money or use of an ATM card by an elder who is housebound.
The laws in most states encourage or require bank officials to report suspected elder financial abuse. And a federal law requires financial institutions to file a Suspicious Activity Report with the federal government when they suspect elder financial abuse.
Get help from a senior services group. While the services offered — from counseling to legal assistance — vary widely depending on the locale, the Eldercare Locator, at 800-677-1116 directs callers to local programs and services that help prevent financial elder abuse. And VictimConnect Resource Center (victimconnect.org) at 855-484-2846 helps arrange and coordinate assistance with crimes.
Contact Adult Protective Services. Adult Protective Services (APS) is the government-affiliated agency charged with investigating reports of elder financial abuse and offering assistance to victims. To find your state APS office, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at ncea.acl.gov/Resources/State.aspx.
Alert law enforcement. The police or local prosecutor’s office will often intervene when there is good evidence that a crime is being committed.
Please take the time to review this information especially if you have elderly or older parents and you have had to take a more active role in their lives and decision making.
And to the thieves who stole my parents’ money, I am going to take a story from the Bible, in the book of Jude 9 where it states, “But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring judgement against him in abusive terms, but said, “May Jehovah rebuke you.”
So as much as my heart hurts and my parents are healing from this mishap, I will leave this in God’s hands and continue to pray for guidance, hope, help and the strength to continue to help my parents.
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