Tag Archives: senior scams

Safe Aging at Home Tip: Elderly Should Beware Strangers in Uniform

Are you or your aging parents letting thieves who scam seniors in through the front door?

The elderly are ideal targets for scammers because they tend to be more trusting — especially if someone shows up at their front door wearing a uniform. Older adults who live alone, or who have begun to show signs of impaired judgement or memory are even more likely to be manipulated or intimidated.

Three recent news stories illustrate just how often seniors are opening their front doors to thieves posing as construction and utility workers, police officers, and even home health aids.

In Spartanberg County, SC, the sheriff is looking for a group of thieves who have been posing as construction workers to distract and burglarize unsuspecting seniors….

In the most recent incident… the men asked an 87-year-old Inman woman about construction “stobs,” or stakes in the ground. The woman went outside and spoke to several men, who said there was a new phone line going in around the area, an incident report said.

The woman told the men she would have to talk to her daughter and when she returned to her house, she found that the door had damaged around the knob. She asked the men to stay outside but the men pushed by her and went inside, the report said.

The men asked her where her money and prescription medication were, and they roamed her home for about 10 minutes, the report said. They later took her cell phone and ripped her phone line out of the wall before leaving. After the men left, the woman went to a neighbor’s home to call police.

Read the full story here

In Michigan, Grand Rapids police reported that a woman has been approaching seniors claiming to be a police officer to gain access to their homes…

…a 72-year-old resident walking in his neighborhood near Lake Michigan Drive NW and Collingdale avenue was approached by a woman identifying herself as a police officer and then talked her way into his house after showing a badge.

While in the house, the woman asked the intended victim about his finances and whether there was money in the home. The woman claimed she was investigating a “counterfeit ring” and said the resident matched the description. The woman got into an old white station wagon driven by someone else and took off, according to police.

Read the full story here

And in Delaware County, Penn., an elderly couple was victimized by a young woman wearing hospital scrubs who claimed she worked for the Delaware County Office of Services for the Aging…

The woman told the elderly man that she was there to check on his wife, who is confined to a bed because of medical issues, police said. The man let the woman inside and she spoke to his wife about her medical issues. After a few minutes, she left the home.

A short time later, the woman returned telling the man that her car had broken down and asked to use the phone. The man allowed her inside again, but this time the woman ran into the wife’s bedroom, went immediately to a bedside table and took a number of items, including cash and a check book. She ran back out the front door before the man could stop her. The suspect’s car was heard driving away toward Washington Street, police said.

Read the full story here

How can you tell if the person ringing your bell really works for the utility company or the police? The following safe aging at home tips can help protect yourself or your aging parents the next time a wolf in sheep’s clothing comes a knockin’ at the front door:

• Don’t open the door! You are not being rude. This is a matter of security, not manners. Whatever needs to be said can be said with you safely inside. Never allow someone you don’t know or trust to literally “get a foot” in your door.

• Beware bogus utility worker scam teams working in pairs. One thief distracts their elderly victim by convincing them to go outside to the backyard or into the basement. Meanwhile, the other thief sneaks in the front door, or pretends to go the bathroom, or to check the gas appliances for leaks. While you are busy outside, the second scammer is stealing any valuables he or she can find.

• Look for a marked utility vehicle with your local utility company’s logo in front of your house or in your driveway.  No sign of a properly marked utility vehicle is a red flag. So are unmarked utility trucks or personal vehicles with “peel off” magnetic signs.

• Don’t be fooled by what appears to be a uniform or an identification badge. Generic uniforms can be made to look official with the right patches. Besides, would you know how to tell a genuine utility worker ID or a police badge from a fake?

• Confirm any letters, door hangers, or phone calls from a utility company that say workers will be in your neighborhood or will need access to your home. Important: Look up the number in a phone book or online AND CALL THE UTILITY COMPANY YOURSELF.

Increasingly, sophisticated scammers who want to put skeptical victims at ease are giving advanced notice that someone will knock at your door — just like real utility companies. The notice may be on utility company letterhead, but the “confirmation number” may be answered by one of the scammers or a bogus recorded message. For the same reason…

• Verify any unexpected visits from utility workers or the police by calling the utility company or the police station yourself. Do not let the person on the other side of your front door give you a number to speak with their “supervisor.” Do not let them have someone call you from the utility company or the station, or dial a number for you on their cell phone. And never, ever let anyone in your home to use your phone.

• If the stranger in uniform at your door says it’s an emergency or you have even the slightest doubt that something isn’t right, call 911. The police take calls about people impersonating cops very seriously. If the gas or electric utility workers are for real, they will have no problems waiting for the police to verify their identity. And the police take calls about people impersonating cops very seriously.

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Senior Scam Alert: Precious Metals Firm Bilks Elderly for More Than $37 Million

When it comes to senior scams, all that glitters is not gold. Especially for seniors who believed the telemarketing pitch from American Precious Metals, LLC, in Deerfield Beach, Fla. According to the Federal Trade Commission, owners Harry R. Tanner and his wife, Andrea Tanner…

…ran a telemarketing scheme that conned senior citizens into buying precious metals on credit without disclosing the costs and risks involved — including the fact that victims were usually forced to pony up more money or risk losing their entire investment.

The FTC said the Tanners and their company, American Precious Metals LLC, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., fleeced elderly victims out of more than $37 million dollars. Pending trial, a federal judge has shut down the Tanner’s company, placed it in receivership, and frozen the defendant’s assets.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the Tanners targeted elderly consumers with a get-rich-quick scheme that promised huge profits by investing in precious metals such as silver, gold, platinum and palladium. American Precious Metals’ telemarketers used strong-arm sales tactics to convince consumers they were being offered low-risk investments that stood to quickly double or triple in value.

…But despite the hard-sell tactics and other lies the Tanners fed their customers, they never used their victims’ money to buy any precious metals at all. Instead, after pocketing fees and commissions that were never clearly disclosed to consumers, they deposited the rest of the money in a clearinghouse account that recorded the investments without buying the precious metals.

The FTC also accused the defendants of regularly failing to inform their customers that their investments were leveraged and, as such, were agreeing to take out a loan and pay interest on up to 80 percent of the purchase price of the precious metal investments — which, of course, were never made.

Read the full article here.

Since the FTC took action against American Precious Metals, LLC, in May, the court-appointed receiver has liquidated the assets of the bogus business, and begun distributing the funds to the Tanner’s victims.

But it’s not likely that anyone will get back everything they lost. And the even greater tragedy is that senior scam victims often don’t have the luxury of time to make back their losses.

Older Americans were hit really hard by the real estate collapse and financial crisis of the last several years. After a lifetime of saving, retirement accounts were devastated. Home equity lifelines disappeared. And foreclosure rates skyrocketed. Add fears of another Great Depression, inflation, and a universal distrust of financial institutions, and it’s no wonder that so many seniors have turned to hard assets like precious metals for peace of mind.

Thinking about investing in physical silver or gold? Do you homework first — and keep these tips from the FTC in mind:

• If you are buying bullion coins or collectible coins, ask for the coin’s melt value – the basic intrinsic bullion value of a coin if it were melted and sold. The melt value for virtually all bullion coins and collectible coins is widely available.

• Consult with a reputable dealer or financial advisor you trust who has specialized knowledge.

• Get an independent appraisal of the specific gold product you’re considering. The seller’s appraisal might be inflated.

•Consider additional costs. You may need to buy insurance, a safe deposit box, or rent offsite storage to safeguard bullion. These costs will cut into the investment potential of bullion.

• Some sellers deliver bullion or bars to a secured facility rather than to a consumer. When you buy metals without taking delivery, take extra precautions to ensure that the metal exists, is of the quality described, and is properly insured.

• Walk away from sales pitches that minimize risk or sales representatives who claim that risk disclosures are mere formalities. Reputable sales reps are upfront about the risk of particular investments. Always get a receipt for your transaction.

• Refuse to “act now.” Any sales pitch that urges you to buy immediately is a signal to walk away and hold on to your money.

• Check out the seller by entering the company’s name in a search engine online. Read about other people’s experiences with the company. Try to communicate offline if possible to clarify any details. In addition, contact your state Attorney General (www.naag.org) and local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov). This kind of research is prudent, although it isn’t fool-proof: it may be too soon for someone to realize they’ve been defrauded or to have lodged a complaint with the authorities.

For more useful information from the FTC about investing in precious metals, click here.

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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.

Click here for the original source of this post

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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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.

Click here to visit the original source of this post

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.

Click here to visit the original source of this post

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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