A recent story from my area provides a great example of how scammers use what I call the “5 Flags” to rip off seniors. The flags I describe in my book are:
These emotions are the major emotional hooks scammers use to gain control of an elder’s mind and get them to give the crook what they want. In this example it’s money.
According to a local police department, the elderly victim received a call from a man claiming to be an attorney for her grandson, who he said had been in a serious car accident involving alcohol. Police said the man then informed the victim that her grandson was hospitalized and she would need to wire $4000 immediately to cover the cost of legally representing him. The woman then went to 2 separate locations and made two $2000 wire transfers.
The following day the same man called the victim and again demanded she transfer another $2000 to cover legal costs. The victim agreed and completed another transfer.
A short time later the victim received another call. This time it was an unknown woman on the line who claimed to be the prosecutor handling her grandson’s case. The woman told the victim that a female passenger was also hospitalized after the crash, and to avoid the filing of serious criminal charges against the victim’s grandson an additional $20,000 would need to be paid. The victim again agreed and made the transfer, according to the police.
A police spokesman said these scams happen frequently, and the scammers often target the elderly. He said, “Criminals use fear and sympathy to convince residents to act quickly and transfer the money to save their relative who is out of the area and who they claim to represent.” The police officer urged residents to independently verify information given to them over the phone by contacting the family member or someone they know who can contact them.
I encourage you to take time today to remind your elder to heed this advice if they get a call of this type.