Mary Scagliarini, RN, Live-in Service Coordinator
Scams are occurring all over the country and they are not necessarily more prevalent today because of the weak economy or increased use of digital devices.
The culprits of scams are con-artists and they have been around since at least the 1700’s when the term was coined. Most likely these individuals were manipulating people long before that.
The elderly are often targets of such crimes because they are viewed as vulnerable and trusting. Nearly all fraud cases involve one common denominator: they are unsolicited and come from an unknown source. Culprit scams often use the internet, mail, phone and door to door contact to conduct their business.
There are several types of scams. A few of the more common are:
1) Telemarketing – Offenders call elderly folks at home to solicit money for fraudulent charities,sweepstakes, investments using high pressure tactics.
2) Mail – Fraudulent sweepstakes and prize operations mail their seemingly innocent and official looking cards out promising large prizes or money for a small fee.
3) Face to Face – This fraud may involve services or products. The perpetrator tries to gain entry into the home or business, distracts the elder while an accomplish burglarizes the place.
4) Confidence Games – These scams do not generally involve a product or service but often the perpetrator acts as a person in authority, getting the person to hand over cash. An example might be a this person contacts the elder person stating they won a lottery but have no bank account to place the money in. The elder may turn over a bank acct # or cash and never see the person again.
5) Internet Scams – Spam filters do not detect all unsolicited emails. Emails from an unknown sender should be opened with caution. Recent reports of scams in Connecticut that I have become aware of are:
- A telephone call from a person posing as a family member or friend who tells the elder they were arrested, are in some legal trouble or have a medical emergency in another country. Sometimes the victim will ask if the personis a friend or family member, calling them by name. Once the perpetrator has a name, they will continue to use it during the call. Most often they ask you to send money via wire transfer. Always ask specific questions that are personal that only a true family member or friend would know the answer to.
- One of the most popular scams today involves a company or agency contacting you by phone or mail that you have won a prize or the lottery. The agency sends you a check then requests you send back a specific amount or they request money up front. Often you’re instructed to “pay taxes” before money can be awarded. If check is sent to you it will be cashed by your bank as it appears valid. Weeks later the bank will contact you that the check was fraudulent and you are responsible for the money to the bank.
Many scams exist. The FBI is aware of them and is investigating them. Visit the FBI website for more information.
And Remember, If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is!