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Scams Targeting Seniors

Adventures in Eldercare May 2012

Elder seniors are often the targets in elaborate scams and cons, all aimed at relieving the senior of their hard earned savings or pension income. The scammer will use any method they can to accomplish this goal; they will use emotional pleas, false documents and outright lies. Here are a few of the common scams that are targeting seniors at this time.

Grandparent scam: This is the newest and unfortunately very effective scam that is now in circulation. You receive a call in the middle of the night, you are informed by your ‘grandchild’ that he/she is in desperate trouble and needs X amount of money wired to them immediately. The scammer is working on your emotional connection to a family member but counting on the fact that you cannot remember all your grandchildren’s names or their whereabouts


Sweepstakes: "You have won!" Just send us $7.95 for postage and handling. While you're at it, wouldn't you like one of these neat gadgets? They're only $19.95! Most of the "deals" are worthless. The scam is often in the postage and handling fees.

Charities: It is wonderful to donate money to the less fortunate. It's not wonderful to be less fortunate yourself and donate $100+/month to various charities. Older seniors are often on a fixed income. Many can't afford the right food or their medications as it is. They feel beholden to give when asked, even if it means they'll have to skip meals or not fill prescriptions.

Authority: It doesn't matter if it's a doctor, pastor or even a police officer. Our elders were taught to obey certain people, without question. They wouldn't be in that profession if they were likely to take advantage of someone. Unfortunately, these authority figures may still take advantage.

Even if it is legitimate, for example, the chapel needs a paintjob. The problem becomes when the senior commits funds that they do not have simply because the pastor is asking. Budget your charitable donations as you would any expense, only give what you can afford.

Nigerian Scam: This is an internet scam that is now being done with letters or even direct phone calls. The premise is that there is a huge amount of money in a bank account somewhere, and the caller needs you to send money so that this person can access the cash, then you will receive a generous monetary reward for your help. The thing to remember about this scam; there is no large bank account anywhere that needs YOU to magically access it!

If you are a care-giver reading this, the cardinal sign to look for is the removal of large or frequent withdrawals of money from the elder senior’s bank account. It's not snooping when you are trying to find out why an elder is overspending. Caregivers have to stand up, find out what's happening and take action. Elderly seniors reading this, be aware and be alert. There is always a new scam on the horizon. If they are using emotional distress to con you, confirm all the facts before taking any action. If they are using fast easy money as the con remember that NO ONE is going to give you free money or lavish gifts, hang up the phone and don’t give it another thought.

Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors, to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare can be contacted by phone, 519-429-2644 or the web-site,

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