Alert to a senior citizen scam

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Recently, I received a call from a man saying he was my grandson, who had been in a serious auto accident in Vancouver Canada. He wanted me to wire him $2,100 immediately. I refused because I questioned the young man and I wanted to check with family members before I made any decision. A few days later in the evening, I received another call from this young man who was rude and somewhat threatening. This was not my grandson, but someone trying to con me out of a lot of money. I called the Sheriff the following morning and an officer came to my home. The officer felt it was not necessary to make a report and left.

My friend Rita Swift who lives in Orange County called me and told me about a similar call she received. The caller was a female who said she was her granddaughter and was in an auto accident in Vancouver Canada. The caller stated she had a broken arm and a broken pelvis and needed $5,000. The call was made at 11:30 p.m. Rita knew it was a con immediately because she has no grandchildren. She does have a daughter Lisa who lives in Colorado. Rita called the Orange Co. Sheriff the next morning. The officers arrived within an hour and made a report and gave her a card to call immediately if the caller called again. They were very much aware of this scam stealing thousands of dollars from concerned seniors.

Rita called Lisa, who works in security for the Air Force and government.

She said she is aware of this scam and it has been going on for a number of years. In 2003, two brothers in New York were arrested for their alleged role in this scam that swindled 71 grandmothers out of more than $309,000. The ring operated in California, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey. They begged the grandmothers not to tell other family members to spare them embarrassment. Most victims were bilked out of $4,000 to $6,000 each. Lisa explained that there is too much unnecessary personal information given out on the Internet about everyone. People Searches that give out addresses, telephone numbers, names of family members and, of course, the ages of everyone listed on these Web sites. For $49, the complete background of an individual can be purchased. There is also a web site called Social Security Death Index that lists the deceased with complete information plus the deceased’s Social Security number. This can open the door to serious problems. We must be very careful and investigate before we give out personal information and money to a caller who says they are a member of our family.

Darlene E. Gardner