The call goes something like this:
“Hello, grandma, it’s me, Joey. Yes, it’s really Joey. I have to talk low, and I’m sick, so I sound funny.
“Please don’t tell Mom or Dad, but I’ve been arrested, and I need your help. Please, please don’t tell anyone. I just need your help right away!
“I need you to wire me some money, so I don’t have to go to jail! Please grandma, do it right away!”
What grandparent wouldn’t rush to help their grandchild in trouble? And if the kid seems afraid or panicked, emotions and protective impulses take over and natural skepticism is pushed aside.
Some grandparents have wired thousands of dollars into the ether to try to rescue a grandchild in distress. Others have gone to Walmart or Kmart or Target and bought thousands of dollars in gift cards to mail off into the great unknown.
Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you. It could. It’s happened to thousands of people. And while the scamsters prey most on the elderly, every one of us is at risk.
The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report showing even millennials can fall victim to fraud. In fact, they are more likely to be the subjects of fraud than people over 70 years of age.
Residents of all ages lose millions of dollars to scammers each year, but law enforcement officials will tell you this is an increasing problem for the elderly, who generally have more to lose than millennials.
The top scam now involves an officious caller claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment of back taxes - now. He even threatens arrest if payment isn’t made immediately over the phone.
There’s also the Social Security phone scam and people claiming to be calling on behalf of police and firemen. The one sign of a scam: They want money - now.
Often, people often are so embarrassed to be victims of a scam, they don’t even bother to report it.
It’s incumbent upon all of us to do more to help educate and protect seniors from scams.