This actually happed to a friend of ours! Will your aging loved one be vulnerable to the next attack? Read this…then take some preventative measures!
Last Thursday, Margaret, age 91, received a phone call from a friendly man. He wasn’t from an in-home care company, nor was he a caregiver or a government agency offering assistance. He wasn’t even a telemarketer asking for a donation. No…this pleasant gentleman had good news for Margaret. He told her that she won a lottery! She was to receive a check for $250,000. He said his name was Tony Blair, of the FBI. He was calling from the FBI to make sure she knew she could count on the offer being legit. This unscrupulous thief somehow managed to get Margaret’s bank account numbers from her. He recorded her voice and had a female sidekick call her Fidelity branch, and ask for $60,000 to be transferred to her Chase account. The sharp Fidelity staff smelled something fishy. The fraudulent callers had strange accents and they were calling from a Florida area code… and Margaret lives in Seattle. Fidelity locked down her account and warned the folks at Chase.
PROFESSIONAL CON ARTISTS – DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS
The scam artists had managed to change Margaret’s phone number, so no one was able phone her when the alert was sounded. Tony told her she would be getting a call from Julian Roberts (not very creative), and that he would call her to give her detailed instructions. Margaret meticulously wrote down her instructions; we found them, safely stuck on the refrigerator door, when we visited her. Since the phone calls to the banks didn’t work for the scammers, the scoundrels instructed the unsuspecting Margaret to visit her bank and transfer $45,000 from her bank account to an account in Florida. Margaret followed the instructions completely.
By the time Margaret’s family members were alerted, the account in Florida had been closed and the bad guys had a great deal of her money. The crooks considered every detail. They even provided Margaret with the answer she was to give if anyone at the bank questioned why she was transferring such a large amount. (‘I am sending it to a friend who is conducting some personal business for me’). They also managed to talk her into charging $19,000 to them on her credit card. At the end of Thursday, Margaret had lost $64,000. If the folks at Fidelity had not been alert, she would have lost another $60,000, or $124,000 total.
NOT THE FIRST TIME – AN EASY TARGET
Prior to this episode, Margaret had been receiving harassing phone calls at all hours. Her family encouraged her to change her number. She refused. ‘How will my friends be able to find me?’ she asked. She was also warned about lottery scams. She insisted she would never fall for such a silly thing. She said this after she had given one stranger $10,000. She can’t remember why. Another man, claiming to work at Wells Fargo Bank, called Margaret. He said he worked for the bank, but that in order to stay undercover, he needed to get donations from people so that the bad guys would not know he was coming. He talked Margaret into withdrawing $5,600 in unmarked bills from her bank. He instructed her to meet him on the corner to deliver the cash to him. She did.
PROTECTION OR PERSECUTION?
After the first incidents with Margaret, family members tried to step in. Unfortunately, Margaret refused their offer to help. Now that her bank accounts are cleaned out, family members are going to step in and take over her finances - in spite of her protests. (Believe it or not, she still does not believe she needs help.)
To add insult to injury… the same day, Margaret was understandably feeling nervous. While driving her car into the parking lot under her building, she grazed the car in the slot next to hers. When her son went to file the insurance claim, he discovered that Margaret had failed to make the last payment. She had been driving, against all advice, with no insurance for 5 months.
WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH?
Children of elderly parents have all struggled with similar issues…though hopefully not to the dramatic extent of Margaret’s misfortune. Forgetting to pay the car insurance, being scammed, leaving the stove on, refusing help or assistance…when is enough, enough. When do adult children of elderly children “put their foot down” and intervene? That’s the $1,000,000 question.
Check out the links below for some additional information or just give me a call and we’ll chat about it.
All the best,
Ray Fitzgibbon, General Manager, SYNERGY HomeCare of Seattle, 206-420-4934