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Has your relative been scammed?
Old 12-02-2013, 11:59 AM   #1
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Has your relative been scammed?

This topic is prompted by the discussions of someone getting to the place of not being able to make good financial decisions.

If your loved one is getting increased amounts of junk mail, making uncharacteristic withdrawals, stuffing cash into envelopes to "support causes" (legitimate and otherwise), entering sweepstakes (particularly international ones which are illegal to enter), or entertaining calls from telephone scammers, things are already 'down the rabbit hole' and you need to intervene "yesterday" as you may have only weeks to preserve any assets and prevent debt (cash advances, borrowing from friends, lines of credit, all going to the scammers.)

However, since financial institutions will likely defer to their client and not work with you, unless their client is with you and gives permission for you to manage - this is not as easy as it sounds (yes, even if you have a notarized, currently-in-force durable power of attorney that does not require a diagnosis of incompetence to kick in.)

This is the the most dangerous stage - the stage prior to incompetence (but on the dementia path). To anyone having only short or periodic interactions with the individual, nothing may seem amiss. The individual can, in fact, make decisions - it's just that they are incredibly awful decisions. Adult Protective Services is no help in this twilight zone prior to incompetence. The scammers even coach the victims on how to cover up and lie to their family and the bank about the expenditures. The person may use anger to get family members to back off ("Don't tell me what to do! It's my money and I can use it as I wish!")

Short video on his relatives' losses to prize scammers and the relatives' unbelievable perception of how much they had lost
The United States Postal Inspection Service - Warning Signs

A family's experience trying to protect Mom (radio program - long but very educational) and how the scammers threatened the extended family
http://www.postalinspectorsvideo.com...2006-26-13.wav

Several Postal Inspector pages

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/r...Room/DFFI.html

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/i...udSchemes.aspx

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/p...emealerts.aspx

Kindest regards.
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Old 12-02-2013, 02:48 PM   #2
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Mom (age 84) is well aware of the possibility of scams but sometimes hates to 'be the bad guy' in saying no.

We have an agreement: any time she's approached by unfamiliar/unknown repair people, landscapers, phone people etc her standard line is: "You'll have to check with my son".

This gets her off the hook, lets me be the bad guy and if it's legit, she can spend without worry. I also monitor her checking account etc from time to time just to be sure she isn't out in the weeds with something.

From an overall family history, we were brought up to look for those red flags from people with less than the best intentions. A little healthy skepticism goes a long way.

Edit: Just as I was writing this, my phone rang! An automated voice told me that my "XXX Credit Card (she said it really fast) has been locked and is now unusable...to unlock it, press 1 and you'll be connected with our security dept". Thing is, we don't have a XXX Credit Card.
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Old 12-02-2013, 03:50 PM   #3
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Not sure which forum this belongs to but I don't think it is the Health forum so I've moved it to "other".

This is not a scam
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:02 PM   #4
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Gosh, do I have a story to tell you. My mother lived at home and had a daily care giver come in to do household duties. A few years back, my sister had a day off mid week and went to visit her. The care giver was out buying groceries, so my sister got the mail. She noticed what appeared to be a bill from a credit card. My mother has not had or used a credit card for at least 20 years. Sure enough, the bill was actually a notice that her account was to be turned over to collectors unless she paid the $20,000+ dollars she had run up. My sister said nothing but went to the police, who contacted the DA's office. They found that there were two cards: one in my mother's name and a second in the care giver's name. Surprise! Eventually, the police raided the care givers house, where they found bags of brand new merchandise from some of the most prestigious stores (read $$$), unopened, often with the receipt still in the bag. Apparently, her plan was to sell the stuff at flea markets. They also found evidence of a $5000 'loan' from another old fellow to help her buy a car. Note: she apparently was using my mother's car as her personal car telling my mom that if she was not able to use the car, she could not take care of her.

The important thing here is for family to keep a watch on the old folks assets, assuming the old folks will let them do it. Thankfully, my mother had given my sister a power-of-attorney (or whatever they call it) over all her assets. My dad, OTOH, kept it all to himself and we only found out about CD's and stocks after he died and we got the statements in the mail. It wasn't much, but we still wonder from time to time how much might be out there waiting for an heir to claim it.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for the good info.
Someone opened up a credit card using my mother's name last month. Got 90 day freezes put on at the credit agencies. Darling nephew was living with her during this time. It has been a struggle getting her cooperation and the dementia is not helping matters. It is time for her to have someone handling things financially but she is not convinced. Lot's for me to watch out for.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:30 PM   #6
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Next door neighbor received a telephone call... purportedly from her nephew who was in Canada. He told her he was being held by the RCMP and needed money to bond him out.... and didn't want his mom to know. The "nephew" then turned the phone over to a "Mounty", who confirmed that the nephew was being held on a charge of possession and that the bail was to be $3000... and advised that the money could be wired (Western Union) and gave the location.
My neighbor did wire the money, only to learn later that day that the nephew had arrived back home two days before.

Not dementia, but sensitivity outweighing sensibility.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:06 PM   #7
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Wow - so someone had to know that someone's nephew had traveled to Canada and that his mom was still living to pull off such a scam.

That's incredible
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:08 PM   #8
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A very close friend of the family also had a caretaker who was raiding the house . This house was filled with valuable antiques . We finally persuaded her to move into an assisted living home . Where she lived happily for years . None of the antiques were ever recovered .
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:43 PM   #9
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Earlier this year DD went to the annual employee boon-doggle. In the Dominican Republic. Before she left she sent us an e-mail from her company to all relatives of their employees. The email said that in previous years relatives of employees had been contacted saying their loved one was in prison, or had been kidnapped, and demanded money for their safe release. The company email told us that if we received any such contact that they had set up a 24hr number for us to contact to speak to a company representative.

Scary times.

Never happened at my Megacorp's annual picnics at the local water park.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:51 PM   #10
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My mom had a cousin she tried to help with the exact problem described by the OP -- a lot of lottery scams and sweepstakes. It was tragic. 10s of thousands of dollars just drained away.

Dad got shocked by this and put his guard up, but as the years pass, he is more and more vulnerable. Now that he has occasional care taker visits, we've taken a few steps. We changed his phone number and told only a few trusted relatives. We froze all of his credit. It is a free service in his state. We turned off all bank and insurance mail. I deal with it on-line, and check it daily. He does still have a credit card, but like I said I check it daily. We have no papers in his place anymore with his banking info.

Still, I have concerns. He is very vulnerable. I'm hoping the freeze is a good step. I can't stop him from carrying that Medicare card. Basically, it means he carries his SS# with him. Does Medicare still do this on newly enrolled? They need to stop that practice.

And although we have all the legal papers, POA, etc. he is still competent in the law's eyes. Most days are good, but every now and then he gets a bit crazy. I never know if he's going to do something really crazy. It keeps me up at night sometimes.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:52 PM   #11
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Next door neighbor received a telephone call... purportedly from her nephew who was in Canada. He told her he was being held by the RCMP and needed money to bond him out.... and didn't want his mom to know. The "nephew" then turned the phone over to a "Mounty", who confirmed that the nephew was being held on a charge of possession and that the bail was to be $3000... and advised that the money could be wired (Western Union) and gave the location.
My neighbor did wire the money, only to learn later that day that the nephew had arrived back home two days before.

Not dementia, but sensitivity outweighing sensibility.
My mom's cousin (man in his 70s) fell for this one too. For $5k I think but it was his "grandson" who needed bail money. He never gave a thought to try to call his son or his grandson's cell.
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:50 AM   #12
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Next door neighbor received a telephone call... purportedly from her nephew who was in Canada.
DW's father fell for a similar scam several years ago. The bank staff, recognizing the pattern, tried to talk him out of wiring the money but he wouldn't listen and absent a court order they have to follow the customer's instructions.

I ran into several instances of scams against the elderly when I was doing fraud investigations. Very frustrating to work because even with good evidence and if the perpetrator is even available you have an unreliable victim/witness who in the worst cases cannot remember yesterday, let alone six months ago. So while I could gather the evidence, in most cases they couldn't be prosecuted unless the evidence was overwhelming, especially when relatives were involved.

As emotional as some of these cases may be, bear in mind that one is talking about using the power of the state to take away someone's freedom. The bar of proof is high for good reason.

My mother had a good defense against the telephone scammers even when her mental facilities were fading. She'd say "Let me give you my police officer son's phone number and talk to him" and then she'd give them my office phone number. Funny no one ever called.
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:18 AM   #13
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Wow - so someone had to know that someone's nephew had traveled to Canada and that his mom was still living to pull off such a scam.

That's incredible
Not really. Ever hear of Facebook?

We share too much.
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:46 AM   #14
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Lots of financial predators pursue the elderly, and not all are scams. Local representatives from two well known financial advisors (Ed and Ray) used to stop my my mother's house regularly to sell their financial dreams and only stopped after I sent certified letters threatening tp report them to the State Attorney General. She gets at least one visit a week from someone selling something door to door, and her caller id shows an unending stream of solicitation. One company, with "credit card" in their name, robo-calls 3 times per week.

One aspect to this not yet mentioned. Like many in her generation, she is reluctant to hang up or be rude to someone unknown and makes an effort to be polite. I sit by and watch as telemarketers cynically exploit that.

This has made an impact in her charitable giving. That, in turn, has led to a significant increase in mail from new charities. While I am confident her assets are well protected, it is not without considerable effort.
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:12 AM   #15
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I still have a land line and most of the junk calls I get are oriented towards manipulating those without full mental capabilities, such as urgently stating that a credit card bill is overdue, without stating which credit card. Me thinks it is deliberate, as older fiolks tend to have land lines.
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:37 AM   #16
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No really. Ever hear of Facebook? We share too much.
I don't think the scammer even needs to know much to be successful, just let grandma and grandpa take the lead. He just has to say, "it's your grandson and I need your help," and they will say, "Michael, is that you?" A lot of grandparents wouldn't know if their young adult grandchildren are home in bed or clubbing In Chicago or hiking in Timbuktu at any given moment, or they could easily be convinced that they are ("I thought you were in Paris," "we were but we took a side trip to Turkey.")

Really awful, scamming loving and vulnerable people who aren't on suspicious autopilot like some of us. I could see DH falling for this one day.
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:45 AM   #17
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The postal inspector assures me that, if you are insistent, you can get the phone carrier to block certain numbers and certain area codes (and they can even block all international calls in and/or out).

At the very least one should prevent 876 and 419 area codes from coming through to the vulnerable and the polite of a certain generation.... As well as blocking calls of those who disguise their numbers. Many scammers' numbers read "Restricted" or "Blocked Number".

The carrier can do this. Call a postal inspector if you get the runaround.

Doesn't prevent everything as the international scammers have lots of accomplices in the U.S. or can disguise the number. But if your loved one is calling back, you'll see the area code.

Supply any suspicious numbers to the postal inspection service.

Consider setting up online access to your relative's phone account. You will likely need his/her permission. Sometimes you can block selected numbers yourself.

Some scammers will wear their victims down by calling every 15 minutes until they get the information they want. They can play the parts of everything from loving son figure to abuser to lover. So if you see the same number multiple times a day it's already time to change the phone number to an unlisted number.

Kindest regards.
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:11 AM   #18
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Not really. Ever hear of Facebook?

We share too much.
Even so - that takes some incredibly targeted searching to discover such a thing (and Facebook is not actually searchable from Google).

I suspect they gather the information some other way - like somehow tracking visitors to Canada?

It still boggles the mind!!!!
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:41 AM   #19
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The "Canada" thing... Young man, an hour of making friends in a local bar and the rest is pretty easy...
That's the way it happened... and grandma wasn't senile either.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:00 AM   #20
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When DF still was living independently, his church was always involved. Well there came a young man that had drug addiction issues. Folks wanted to help the young man. Turns out one night he calls DF, 'I need money or their going to kill me'. So DF gets involved gives the man $300. The kid then asks for a ride to go repay the money. DF takes him and waits, serveral hours pass. Later we learned DF had taken the young man to a known crack house, then waited to give him a ride home!

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