Here are three of the most recent scams we’ve been hearing about from our senior clients:
- IRS calling to tell you that you owe money and if you don’t immediately pay funds a “cop” will be at your door within 24 hours.
- A person posing as your grandchild or the close friend of a grandchild calls and asks you to send money immediately – usually by prepaid cards or to a specific Western Union. The call usually comes late at night and they beg you not to call the grandchild’s parents because of the kind of trouble they are in (or something like that). Sometimes, they claim to be the police and you need to help pay to get them out of jail.
- The call is often late at night because scammers figure an older person will get confused more easily – especially if the call just woke them up.
- The caller works to isolate you from others who would be able to verify the information.
- Call your family or a trusted advisor, such as an attorney, financial advisor, or CPA, before doing anything!
- You’d like to do a little dating and your good friend met the most wonderful person online. So, you decide to sign up. I’m going to make you a woman here, but please know that men are equally susceptible to this scam. Soon, you get contracted by a very nice-looking man. He’s well-educated and successful, and you think, “boy did I hit the lottery!” You and your new man begin communicating via email and you find yourself falling for him. He’s everything you hoped for at this stage of life.
You talk about meeting but, since he travels for his work, he can never seem to make it. Even so, he continues to write you beautiful letters. Then, one day he sends you an email telling you about his precious grandchild, Sophie, who just got rushed to the hospital. She needs emergency surgery and the hospital is demanding a certain amount of cash up-front. Would you please front him the cash until he can close the deal he’s working on? It should only be a few weeks. If you don’t do it Sophie might die! He’ll even give you an address to send the money order to. It has to be a money order because the hospital won’t accept anything but cash, and he’ll have to immediately cash your check. Better yet, since he’s caught up at the hospital, he can send someone to meet you at the bank!
- This scammer is patient. He creates a story and image of himself that is appealing to you. It is a very confident and sometimes traceable image. We all know relationships develop with mutual sharing and communication. Well, his image also develops as you share your personal information.
- This person specifically appeals to a woman’s natural desire for romance or a man’s need for sexual expression. It’s such an insidious ploy because it plays on our human needs.
- He or she is never the person in the photo online (tip: try using Google reverse image search).
Important things to know about scammers:
- It’s a numbers game. They use an auto-dialing service to call 300 people in just a few minutes before finally hitting a real victim. On dating sites, they send wonderful messages that they copy and paste many times over. It’s kind of like fishing, so the term
“phishing” applies. Eventually, they catch someone. DON’T answer the phone if you don’t recognize the calling number. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
- They will almost always beg and plead that you not tell anyone about the call. Their strength is in secrecy. DO call your family and/or a trusted advisor, such as an attorney, financial advisor, or CPA, before doing anything!
- They search Facebook and other social media accounts. DO set your privacy settings so only people you know can see your posts and private information.
- They are usually very friendly. This is the real hook. They call and chat and tell you about their lives so that you will, in turn, divulge all your secrets. They reel you in by conversation. Information is power! DON’T share information about yourself and your family, especially if it regards your date of birth or Social Security Number.
If you are scammed, it’s important to share the situation with your friends and loved ones. These scammers are notorious for taking advantage of people who are embarrassed about getting caught. The most powerful thing we can do is talk about scams to warn the people around us. Sadly, people who don’t tell others often get scammed again.
By, April Hill
The elder law attorneys at Hill & Kinsella are sensitive to the personal, financial, and legal issues that tend to impact elder clients. Contact our firm at (727) 240-2350 if you require legal guidance in matters involving elder law, estate planning, Medicaid issues, and more.