Category Archives: Senior Scams

New Medicare Scam Offers “Free” Glucose Monitor to Seniors

Seniors with Medicare benefits should beware of unsolicited phone calls offering a free new glucose monitoring meter for diabetics.

According to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, the offer is a Medicare scam designed to convince unsuspecting elderly victims to give up their Medicare number.

The caller claims to be from a government agency and says that they are informing seniors who have Medicare B coverage that they are eligible for the new glucose meter. That’s the bait. The hook is when the caller asks you to confirm that “you are who you say you are” by giving them your Medicare number.

Don’t bite! This classic “free offer” scam depends on the fact that — despite all warnings to the contrary — people still want to believe that they can get something for free. Especially something they consider an entitlement, like Medicare benefits.

Medicare NEVER makes calls to beneficiaries out of the blue. All official Medicare business is conducted by mail.

Scam artists may offer bogus products and services, pretend to be federal officials or insurance company representatives, or even set up fake health screening booths to steal Medicare numbers.

Consumers should always check their Medicare Summary Notices to make certain that they or their doctors have authorized the charges shown.

Common Medicare scams include:

• Sales pitches for discounted prescription drugs that never arrive.

• Telemarketers selling unnecessary Medicare-covered products or services, such as “Medicare Arthritis Kits” which do not exist.

• Offers of help in applying for Medicare-issued checks to cover prescription costs, even though Medicare provides the checks automatically to eligible individuals who reach a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage known as the “donut hole.”

• Free health screening booths at malls or other public places are usually safe, but scams do exist. Consumers should make sure that the screeners
represent a legitimate organization such as a local hospital or public health center before they provide their Medicare numbers.

Scam artists use Medicare and Social Security Numbers to submit fake bills or commit identity theft; and some may use banking information to charge consumers for products that are never delivered.

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Here’s another reason to protect yourself or your aging parent or loved one from Medicare scams… Having your Medicare number stolen may just be the beginning of a bigger nightmare.

Scammers who target the elderly are always looking for gullible victims who can be conned again and again. If they can get a senior’s Medicare number, why not go back to the well for a social security card or checking account number?

If you suspect Medicare fraud, call your state Attorney General’s office. You can also report Medicare fraud to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency.

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Study: More Than Half of Reported Financial Elder Abuse Cases Committed by Strangers

More than half of reported cases of financial elder abuse were committed by strangers, according to newly released findings from The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse.

In the most common scenarios, strangers targeted victims who were out shopping, driving or managing financial affairs, and often looked for particular flags of vulnerability like handicap tags on cars, walking canes or the display of confusion. Crimes included cons, purse snatchings and associated physical assaults.

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Other key findings from the MetLife study:

• Women were twice as likely as men to be victims of financial elder abuse

• Most victims of financial elder abuse were between ages 80 and 89.

• Most financial elder abuse victims lived alone and depended on others for help with health care or work around the house.

• Men between the ages of 30 and 59 accounted for almost 60% of perpetrators in reported cases of financial elder abuse.

• Victims of financial elder abuse were especially vulnerable during holidays.

The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse was produced in partnership with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech. You can download a copy here.

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Living Well Grant Fund Scam Targets Seniors

A skilled con artist knows that one of the most powerful ways to hook unsuspecting victims is by telling a story that people really want to believe. This may explain why the Administration on Aging has issued a phone fraud alert for one of the latest senior scams — “The Living Well Grant Fund.”

The scammer instructs the prospective victim to complete a grant “application,” provide a cell phone number, and wire $150 through Western Union in exchange for a windfall of up to $6,500. The caller wraps up the spiel by telling the target the agency will call their cell phone when it is time to pick up the “grant” money at Western Union.

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Of course, the call to pick up your boatload of free government grant money never comes.

The Living Well Grant Fund scam relies on using the name of a bogus grant that sounds incredibly similar to the legitimate “Living Well” grants that the Administration on Aging makes to states. But the legitimate grant has nothing to do with giving away money to seniors.

Grant scam prevention tips for seniors:

• The government never contacts anyone offering them money.

• If you do qualify for a government grant, there are no fees to apply for it.

• Information about government grants and applications for those grants are free. Check out the official government site here.

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Senior Scam Alert: Warmer Weather Breeds Door-to-Door A/C Scammers

Now that the weather is heating up many homeowners are beginning to think about staying cool. Naturally, scammers who target the elderly are taking advantage of rising temperatures to put a seasonal twist on an old scam.

In Kentucky, law enforcement is warning seniors to beware of two door-to-door thieves who pose as contractors offering estimates for new heating and air conditioning units.

Once inside…one of the male subjects will distract the victim while the other male subject goes around measuring the residence. While pretending to take the measurements, that male subject is taking jewelry and any other valuable items.

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Of course, this senior scam is nothing more than another variation of the classic “distraction” scam. And the best way not to fall for it is not to open the door to strangers, regardless of the “great deal” they promise for trimming your trees, painting your house, paving your driveway, or replacing your windows.

Senior scammers who target elderly homeowners will say anything to get you to open the door. Some will claim to be doing work for a neighbor. Some will claim to be making an emergency call for the gas or electric company. And some will prey on your trust and generosity by asking for donations for disaster relief or charities.

Seniors who live alone are favorite targets because elderly persons tend to be more social, trusting, and generous. But the goal is always the same: One thief keeps you busy while the other forages in all the places you are most likely to keep valuables.

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Contractor Steals More Than $200,000 from Elderly Widow

A western New York contractor has admitted to stealing more than $200,000 from an elderly nursing home resident with dementia. Recently, in Monroe County Court, Ronald Molinari, Jr. confessed that he billed Clementine Nelson for work on her home that he never did or didn’t do right.

According to Nelson’s brother, Molinari was hired to work on his 88-year old sister’s home in 2006…

“He kept conning her. He told her the house was in bad shape, that it was going to fall apart. He took down a perfectly good roof and put up a horrible roof. He put up vinyl siding that is coming off. A 5-year-old could have done better.”

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Molinari’s theft was discovered during an audit of Nelson’s finances when she moved to the Jewish Home of Rochester after being diagnosed with early stage dementia.

The court sentenced Molinari to five years probation and ordered him to repay $50,000 of face prison. Nelson’s family will have to pursue a civil suite to try to recover the rest of her money.

Nelson, a widow with no children, had lived in her Irondequoit, NY, home for more than 40 years. She may now have to sell her home — valued at less than $85,000 BEFORE the housing market went to hell — to pay for her nursing home care.

Don’t take the risk that an opportunistic predator will take advantage of your aging parent the way that Ronald Molinari, Jr. has admitted to taking advantage of his elderly victim.

If your aging parent or loved one is beginning to show signs of cognitive impairment or possible dementia, along with a proper medical evaluation, make sure someone looks over their finances, too.

Older adults can be extremely vulnerable to scams, fraud, and financial elder abuse. This is especially true if their judgement or memory has been affected by mild cognitive impairment, which may or may not be diagnosed.

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