Federal Trade Commission: One Ring Call Scams

Elderly telephone scammers -- a big menace

We hear about the fraud of elders: scams on trusting and sometimes gullible ones. Recently, an elderly friend was victimized to the tune of $4,000 but avoided being taken for an additional $12,000. Knowing I scribble for NSNT, she suggested a column about her experience, hoping it might remind other elders to be very careful when dealing with unknown callers or to avoid them altogether.

She is 86, a widow living alone, her children scattered. Though not wealthy, she is comfortable, a life-long hard worker who saved some money, made real estate investments, etc. as did her husband. She is very thrifty and conservative – by dress and behavior you’d never guess she has money. And, she is still very alert, a regular visitor to the Senior Center, a tough pinochle and cribbage player, witty and charming, unless you make a wrong bid or play. Also, very kind, but unfortunately maybe a little too trusting.

Due to a knee replacement which didn’t work correctly, she packs a cane and has physical therapy twice a week, administered by Roger apparently a very personable and competent health care giver. She dotes on him and though painful, looks forward to the sessions, foregoing any card game to be on time. “I can’t keep him waiting or miss an appointment, he’s almost like a son,” she confided.

FTC report to Congress details fraud reports from older consumers. Consumers 60 and older report losing money to scams...

Posted by Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

At any rate, she recently received a call on her land-line telephone from a ‘restricted’ number which she answered, a rarity as she relies mostly on her cell phone. A young man informed her that Roger had been arrested, was in jail and unless bonded out was in danger of losing his job. This was horrible and devastating news to my friend. “Why did you call me?”

“Roger doesn’t have any family and no friends that can afford to help him out,” she learned. “He thinks of you as a mother or grandma and thought you might help. But he is embarrassed by this situation asking you to keep it secret. Don’t tell anyone else about this.”

My soft-hearted friend did not hesitate. “How can I help?”

“We need $4,000 for the bond. Go to the bank, get the money, then Home Depot to buy four $1,000 gift cards. Call me when you have the cards, that will allow me to get Roger out. And hurry!”

Still able to drive, my friend accomplished that mission, carefully guarding the secret, even though the bank teller found that cash withdrawal unusual for her. Calling the young man back, she provided the card numbers. Apparently, with numbers in hand, those gift cards can be redeemed for cash.

“Keep me posted,” my friend asked. “I’ll wait for your call.”

Sure enough, another call soon came. This time, she was informed that the judge had upped the bail and another $12,000 was needed to spring Roger. But, by this time, my friend had recovered from the initial shock, reconsidering. “I’ve lived here all my life,” she advised the caller. “I’ll call the judge myself and give a good word for Roger.”

The caller then quickly hung up and efforts to call him back were unsuccessful.

Finally, it dawned upon her to call the local jail to inquire about Roger. Of course, he was not incarcerated and had not been. When she explained the situation, the jailer informed her “While Home Depot cards can be used for a lot of things, they cannot be used for a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card.


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Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice@gmail.com.

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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