February 1st, 2012 at 2:29 pm
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Be wary of these 10 scams aimed at elders

by Dorian Martin

Last week, I was asked to interview an older gentleman who I didn’t know for a story I was writing. I called the gentleman and we had a pleasant but brief introductory conversation. We agreed that I would do the interview the following afternoon in person. At the end of the call, I could hear the gentleman talking to a woman who he identified as his daughter who had entered the house.

Fast forward to the next morning when my phone rings. I answered it and the caller identified herself as the gentleman’s daughter. “What do you want with my father?” she asked nicely but firmly. I explained what I was doing, trying to be clear that I wasn’t someone who was out to try to scam her father, who (it turns out) has mild cognitive impairment. I told the daughter that I could totally understand her caution since I had a mother who struggled with Alzheimer’s and now have my elderly father living with me.

I really applaud this woman’s decision to call me to determine my intentions.

Top 10 scams aimed at seniors

And I want to make sure that all caregivers understand the elderly scams that are out there waiting to ensnare a trusting loved one. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) identified the top 10 scams as follows:

  1. Health care/Medicare/Health insurance fraud
  2. Counterfeit prescription drugs
  3. Funeral and cemetery scams
  4. Fraudulent anti-aging products
  5. Telemarketing
  6. Internet fraud
  7. Investment schemes
  8. Homeowner/reverse mortgage schemes
  9. Sweepstakes and lottery scams
  10. The grandparent scam

The “grandparent scam” involves criminals calling an older person and identifying themselves as a relative. According to the NCOA, the unsuspecting grandparent may guess to identify which relative is calling. Once this fake identity has been established, the scammer will typically ask the elder for money to resolve a financial issue (such as a rent or car payment). In most cases, they will ask for the money to be sent by MoneyGram or Western Union because identification isn’t always required to collect the money.

Even scarier, the scammer will ask the grandparent not to tell others of the request because they don’t want to be embarrassed. In turn, the criminal can then call the elder again and again, asking for money.

As caregivers to elders, we have to walk the difficult line of trying to allow the elder to make independent decisions for as long as possible while still providing some level of protection for them. By being aware of these scams, you have a better chance of getting the upper hand to help the elder avoid being scammed.

Posted in Caregiving, Fraud | 4 Comments »
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4 Comments to “Be wary of these 10 scams aimed at elders”

  1. We had a live in care giver situation for my parents,
    allthough the doctor did not think she could handle
    two people. I was devastated one day whn I told Maria, the caregiver not to leave her alone for a second, we had just got back from the doctor, and he
    said if she breaks a le again she my need surgury, and
    never be able to walk. I told her I was going to the food store to cash a check, no matter how long I’m gone, “Please don’t Leave the house.” When I came back Mom was creaming in pain on the kithcen floor.
    She had gotten up from her chair, and slid with her stocking feet into the refrigerator. Maria was gone.
    Waiting for her to come back and call an ambulance,
    I guessed her leg was broken. I picked her up off the floor and put her into a wheelchair. I called the neighber, and asked if she saw Maria? She said no.
    Where could she be? We moved her to the couch and
    called and ambulance. After surgery she would never walk agian, put spend time in a Rehab Center. My
    sister had become the financial Executor, and I did not know what she was paying fr out of their money.
    She even kept Maria for my Father, and my Mother returned home. After my father die a terrible death,
    Maria became disturbed at my Mother’s dementia.
    When visiting on a ususl Saunday, she had moved the wheelchair seat and insisted not to put it back. I asked for her hand to help me pick her up, becasue
    she may not be able to make a stand. She would not
    help and left the house. When I picked her up her feet got twisted under the chair, but my sis ter would not call the ambulance for three days, she lived in
    another county. After she had another surgury, she went to the same nursing home as my Father, and with her diabetes and pnenmonias, I did not not know if this was the best home for them. It was to late. All my questions were ignored, since my sister ad taken over finanical executor role. I even asked why there was a DNR order, when she got to the hosptial. The nurse in the ER say’s I got another one.
    Another what? That would be against my wishes, no again no one asked me, what I thought. Maybe they gave them the wrong medicines in the hopital and nursing home and were not aware of their distress,
    in their rooms or were left alone too long. I wished they had better care.


  2. Beatrix Lewis

    It is heartbreaking that there are people who take advantage of seniors. This should be stopped and the best way to do this is by providing helpful information to affected parties. This list can help seniors in a big way, they are detailed and very informative.

  3. Medical Alert System

    Old people are the soft targets of the people whose aim is to make fool of others, so one should make their elders aware of such nuisances happening around.

  4. Joe

    Do you have more information about the other scams besides the grandparent scam? It would be helpful to have examples so that we can discuss this with our parents. Concrete examples like the one you give are so much more powerful than just saying, “watch out for financial scams.”


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