Sid received a phone call from his 16 year old grandson, Isac who reported he was under arrest by the local police in his hometown in the state of Missouri. Isac was frantic because he couldn’t reach his parents and the police were threatening to lock him in a cell for possession of illegal drugs found in his car. He requested his grandfather wire the money for his immediate release.
Sid, a rather astute man, calmly asked his grandson what his birthday was. The call was abruptly ended. There was no imminent arrest and his grandson was at home. This was only one of a series of scams which are currently targeting our seniors. This one is called “The Grandparent Scam”.
In 2015, over 86,000 complaints were logged for Identity Theft, Fraud and Consumer Complaints in the State of Ohio alone. One of the most common groups targeted are seniors for a multitude of reasons: they own their own home; likely have a nest egg and or liquid assets; have money hidden in their homes; and were raised in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s to be trusting and polite. The group is less inclined to say “no” as well as less likely to report a fraud. Seniors may not know where to report it, are ashamed and can be fearful of losing their financial independence.
The following are different types of scams purported against the group currently:
Grandparent Scam: Con-artist calls the mark claiming to be a lawyer or police officer claiming their grandchild is in trouble and needs money for bond or is in the hospital. Money needs to be wired or purchase iTunes gift cards as payment.
Credit Card Interest Rate Scam: Offender will call as either a person of authority or representative of a bank claiming to lower an interest rate in an effort to collect victims information in order to open fraudulent bank accounts in their name.
Jury Duty Scam: Perpetrator will call stating you have missed jury duty and a warrant for your arrest is imminent. To avoid the warrant being issued you must wire, mail or meet to pay a fee.
Prize or Sweepstakes Scam: an official looking check or promise of prize or large sum of money arrives in the mail informing recipient of their winnings.
Lottery Scam: Scam artist claims to have won the lottery but have no bank account in which to deposit their winnings and want to use yours.
Tech Support Scam: A representative claiming to work for Microsoft calls to inform you of a problem with your computer which they will fix for a fee.
Utility Worker/ Contractor Scam: Person claiming to work for city or utility company sent to check something to distract homeowner while accomplice enters to steal either money or valuables.
IRS Scam: Con artist calls on the telephone stating you are delinquent on your taxes and owe the federal government money threatening you with prosecution if the fine is not paid immediately.
Note: the IRS NEVER CALLS.
Phishing Scam: An internet scam with either an email or pop-up message asking for identifying information from what appears to be a bank or credit card company with a phony reason for you to supply either your social security number or bank or credit card information.
Unfortunately, the scam artists get more and more creative in a their attempts to swindle. A few points to ponder in the future:
The IRS never calls.
Banks and legitimate companies already have your personal information.
Report suspicious activity to the following IRS: Treasury Inspector General 1-800-366-4484 option # 5 Scam Tracker: Better Business Bureau BBB.org or 1-216-241-7678 Attorney General’s Office: Ohioprotects.org or 1-800-282-0515
The statistics are staggering and climbing. Unfortunately scams by the unknown perpetrators are not the worst abuse our seniors face. Financial abuse by friends, family and those known to their victims is even more shocking. Some of the statistics of financial abuse reported by the Specialists in Aging in conjunction with the Lake County Council on Aging are:
90% of abusers are family members
1 in 15 cases are actually reported
½ of those with Alzheimer’s are abused
1 in 10 seniors are victims of abuse
If you believe you, a family member or someone you know is the victim of elder abuse, help break the silence.
Report Elder Abuse