Identity Theft/Scams Against Seniors
Identity Theft/Scams Against Seniors by Deb Sanders, Dorothy Love Retirement Community
I am in shock. I am in disbelief. I am angry.
Recently, I started sharing information about Identity Theft and Scams against seniors at various senior groups across the counties surrounding Dorothy Love Retirement Community in Sidney, Ohio. I stumbled across a program that the Federal Trade Commission has created that is geared towards identity theft. I felt it was important information for me to share with seniors. I had no idea that the problem was as wide spread locally as it soon became apparent that it is. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that over 10 million people in the United States have their identity stolen each year. The first program I did was with a small group of around 25-30 seniors. I talked about how to stop identity theft and what to do if your identity was stolen. I used the information supplied by the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General. The program was very well received. But, then I opened the floor to the seniors to share any experiences that they had had with identity theft or scams. More than half of the seniors in this meeting admitted that they had been approached and/or had participated in a scam (ie: sent the scammers money). The stories that they told were unbelievable. These were all scams that had not been listed in the program that I had just given. The “sharing” process educated this group far more than I had. I was in shock by some of the stories that they told. I continue to do this program for senior groups. Each time I do, several new scams come to light during the sharing process. Yesterday, I went on 3 homes visits and each family (all senior citizens) had been approached by scammers just recently. One of the 3 actually sent money, not once but 3 times. If you are reading this and you or a loved one have been approached by a scam, please share what happened to you. It is appalling what is happening to seniors every single day in our own communities. The best way for us to assist these seniors is by sharing stories. This way, if they receive a strange phone call or letter they will know that it is a scam. The scammers are very talented. They can con the most intelligent of people out there by tugging at their heart strings in one way or another. I will be routinely sharing some of the stories that I have heard in this blog. Please share any that you have so that we may stop some of the crimes being committed against our neighbors. SCAM #1: Grandparent Scam - One grandpa shared this story: He said that his phone rang and on the other end was a young man that was crying hysterically. The young man said "Grandpa, this is John (his grandson). I am in Cancun with Andy (his other grandson). We’ve gotten in so much trouble grandpa, you have to help me!! Please don’t tell mom! I’m going to go to prison! The police are here and they want to talk to you! – all the while, young man was sobbing. The “policeman” got on the telephone and told the grandfather that John had been in a vehicle that he stopped. When they searched the vehicle they found a large quantity of drugs. John and Andy claim that they had no knowledge of the drugs and that they had just hitched a ride with these people. They are in serious trouble. However, if you send $20,000 for their defense, we will set them free and send them home. The gentleman could still hear his grandson in the background sobbing. The “policeman” went on to tell how to send the money. Grandpa was given a deadline – tomorrow. Grandpa was beside himself and said that he would send the money right away. However, grandpa was smart enough to call his daughter to find out if his grandson was in Cancun. Grandpa found out that his grandson was safe and sound at home. Grandpa is fairly hard of hearing. He was unable to tell that this was not his grandson because of all the sobbing and distress in the young man’s voice. Had grandpa not been able to get in touch with his daughter to find out if John was in Cancun or not, he said he would have sent the money. He would not have taken the chance that his grandson would go to prison in a foreign country. Grandpa stated that since the scammers knew both of the grandson’s names (who live in 2 different states) it made it very easy for him to buy in to what they were saying. Please continue to watch this blog and our facebook page for more stories. Pass these stories on to the seniors in your life. Let’s work together to stop this from happening to someone we love.
How can these people sleep at night?