Scammers have targeted the Sacramento senior citizen culture, particularly in the Arden Arcade area where a large number of seniors own homes or rent senior apartment complex residences and assisted living quarters. Sometimes the scammers get names of older adults from various newspapers that are read by the senior culture in Sacramento where there are several newspapers and directories for seniors and numerous senior centers and housing.
Sacramento mainstream and social media, advertising mailing lists, and membership lists from various clubs open to seniors, retirees, and life-long learning groups, library clubs, city directories, demographic lists of names and addresses by age, the Internet, mailing lists of dental and medical patients, hobby groups and church membership lists may be available or sold to scammers who prey on the elderly asking them to wire money.
Scammers may also look at obituaries in the media and attend Sacramento funerals
Obituaries in the mainstream media are read by scammers who target recent widows and may research lists of members from clubs attended by people who lost their spouses or partners. Some scammers are brazen enough to attend funerals. Not only seniors are targeted by people who lost younger relatives or even infants. Thousands of dead and live children’s identity is stolen, particularly social security numbers.
Scammers can open bank accounts and obtain credit or debit cards in the name of children using social security numbers issued to kids. It may take years before the children are old enough to find out, usually when they reach college age.
Be careful of personal information for seniors in newspapers, obituaries, and funerals listing detailed personal information, and also when children first obtain social security numbers. Childen’s social security numbers are sold to human traffickers or thieves looking to open fraudulent credit accounts. For further information, see the articles, Child Identity Theft Takes Advantage Of Kids’ Unused Social Security numbers. Check out the site,How to tell if your child’s identity has been stolen – Technology.
Sometimes names and phone numbers are obtained by membership in ethnic or religious groups, genealogy associations focusing on specific ethnic or religious groups, or even life-long learning classes that publish annual catalogs listing the name, address, phone number, and email addresses of members.
Even though the catalogs go to members only, when the catalogs are disposed of at the end of a year, most of the names and locations are still current. And members also can obtain lists of people who attend senior center groups, university courses for continuing education, and even religious social or genealogy clubs.
One example is of a name, address, email address, and phone number of someone who joined a specific religious genealogy group made up mostly of seniors of a specific ethnic group and culture. That senior recognized the person’s name a few years later on a mailing list coming from a particular dental office, and also showing up online on a white-pages type list for locating persons.
The elderly person recognized the name being on a variety of lists online simply because of one middle initial inserted in the name which originally was used only on the one mailing list at a particular ethnic genealogy group that met in at a senior apartment complex lounge or library room for genealogy research of a specific ethnic group. It shows how names and addresses get around from the social group to the dental office to finally an online service for locating people…all because the senior put in one initial as a middle name that never was used before on any other list.
What telephone scams targeting seniors sound like
The most often scheme is for a strange voice on the phone to call a person known to have grandchildren that live in other areas outside of Sacramento. The voice addresses the person answering as grandma or grandma and asks for money to be wired to another city or country.
The voice on the other end often says he or she is in trouble abroad or in another city and needs money wired immediately. It’s happening currently in Yolo County, and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is alerting residents to a dramatic surge in scam calls in West Sacramento, Davis, and Woodland suburbs of the Sacramento regional area. The phone calls usually start off with a voice that says, “Grandma, it’s me.”
Sadly, too many elderly people are actually taking out all their savings and sending it to strangers who scam them out of their money with this type of scam. Recently in Sacramento, another elderly woman was tricked into sending all the money in her savings account to someone claiming to be her grandson who was out of the country and in trouble.
These international scam artists get a list of people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails if they’re online from the same sources that legitimate businesses buy their demographic lists from. If you’ve ever wondered why people over the age of 70 keep getting letters from funeral services and hearing aid companies, it’s because various companies sell demographic lists of people, mailing lists, by the age of the person.
You may find people in their 50s and 60s getting cruise and travel catalogs which changes to funeral services, cremation companies, and hearing aid firms, business that sell power chairs and scooters for those with low mobility, and bathroom fixture firms selling walk-in tubs for the elderly or disabled.
What scams to beware of focused on business or culture
Beware of funeral, veteran’s benefits, reverse mortgages, credit card, money wiring, and hearing aid scams. These types of mailing lists as well as information from social media sources and organizations or even medical offices contain the ages and phone numbers, addresses and even email of large numbers of the aging population.
There are real estate scams whereby scammers try to coerce people into selling their homes to get funeral benefits and other scams with lists taken from real estate offices, census files, lists of home owners from recent home sales, assisted living moves, senior club memberships, if available to businesses, genealogy club memberships, if lists are available to others, and catalogs published with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of older people.
One source could be a club catalog or school catalog listing members of life-long learning classes with their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. These older catalogs thrown away can be taken out of trash cans or found in estate sales after a person has died, found in trash thrown out or obtained in other ways with a free list of names and addresses of retirees who have attended life-long learning classes in a particular year.
Scammers rely on older people’s supposed loss of short-term memory or confusion
Other types of scams targeting older people focus on their possible hearing or memory issues that the scammer is counting on. International scam artists use telephone, email, and bank information. For example, someone may call regarding credit or debit card information asking on the telephone for personal information.
Never give information to a caller. Tell the person you’ll visit your bank’s branch and ask what the issue is when you go into the bank branch. Seniors who are home-based and unable to get to their bank branch or who do a lot of shopping online because of low mobility issues frequently are targeted.
Be careful of listing too many personal names and similar information on genealogy blogs online. All a scammer has to do is look up the name, address, phone number or email address of living people listed on genealogy blogs. Don’t list people on genealogy blogs who are alive.
Scammers look at ancestry groups and blogs to see whether a living person is on there and then may go online to search for an address which may be listed in any one of several services online that list personal information as well as names and addresses or phone numbers and email.
Don’t list people still living on genealogy blogs
Mailing lists often are sold to scammers. One scam consists of calling people who already subscribe to newspapers and get the online version of the same print paper free. The caller asks the person at the other end whether he or she wants to subscribe also to the online version of the newspaper for a fee. The problem is the online version is free when the person already subscribes to the newspaper delivery in the paper form that’s delivered daily to the home.
Mailing lists of people who get various publications delivered to the home such as newspapers and magazines may be bought if the publication sells those mailing lists to advertisers or other businesses. Scammers can buy mailing lists for a fee and focus on the mailing lists compiled by demographics such as age, income level, or location.
Never give personal information to callers asking for bank information
Never give anyone phoning you your credit card information. Never give personal information to a stranger calling asking for personal information no matter who they say they’re from. You have no proof of it. If someone says you won a lottery or a vacation, tell them to send a letter and you’ll have your lawyer validate that evidence. Don’t give out credit card numbers or your mother’s maiden name.
Don’t give out your mailing address. If you won a lottery, the company would already have your address. Either hang up or tell the caller you’ll contact your state’s lottery office to find out whether you won anything since it would have to be validated and fact-checked.
Most elderly people don’t talk about facts being validated and checked by lawyers when somebody calls them asking for information. Scammers want your social security number, credit card information, bank account numbers, birth date, your mother’s maiden name, and other personal information so they can open a bank account in your name, get a credit or debit card and run up a bill. Don’t even give out your phone number, even if they say they have it. Never subscribe to a publication if somebody phones you. Check out the magazine online or in a library to make sure you’re subscribing for one year only.
Don’t let others get control of your credit or debit card with automatic renewals
Never sign up for automatic delivery of vitamins or publications. You may be allergic to the supplements and you don’t want your debit or credit card charged without you knowing it. You need to maintain control. Also the magazine may go out of business after you’ve paid for three years subscription. Remember George Burns quip, “I’m so old I don’t even buy green bananas.”
Never click on a link sent to you by email. And never wire money even if the person sounds like your grand child. Instead call or email your grand child. Don’t respond to call back a phone number the scammer gives you.
The “grandma wire me money scam” is increasing in Sacramento
You have no proof that number or toll-free number is to the scammer or really to your bank or other official. Instead, validate the evidence. Better yet, hang up. For further information, check out the Claudia Buck’s June 16, 2012 financial column in the Sacramento Bee, “Beware of financial scams targeting seniors.” Scamming is growing in Sacramento it’s known as elder financial abuse. It’s not new. With the TV program “Locked up Abroad,” a variety of scammers are using the ploy, “Grandma I’m in trouble overseas. Wire me money right away.”
Too many seniors don’t even bother to call their grandchildren or children to find out first if a scammer is calling. If your grandchild was in trouble, your children or other relatives would have told you. But call everyone else first. Usually the scammer is aware you have a grandchild of a certain age.
Information could have been taken from any source where you announced your family members’ ages or gender and any other information, or from various schools. Chances are the person calling overseas has never met your grandchildren, although it could also be someone who knows your children or grandchildren and is trying to scam any family members, targeting the oldest people first.
Last week, the state Department of Corporations – State of California urged Californians to be aware of investment fraud and other financial scams targeting seniors. It’s also got a great resource, “Seniors Against Investment Fraud” (SAIF), which outlines scams and financial fraud targeting those over 50. Download it here. For further information, check out the June 16, 2012 Sacramento Bee article, “Beware of financial scams targeting seniors.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
If you’re concerned about financial abuse based on your age, the Consumer Financial Protetction Bureau (CFPB), created by Congress in 2010 following the country’s mortgage meltdown has the statistics you can research. According to the CFPB, Americans age 60 and over lost at least $2.9 billion to “financial exploitation” in 2010, often by family members. If you have a story to tell them about how you were scammed as an older adult, check out the CFPB website on what information they can use regarding your experience. You can help other seniors by letting them know what kind of media focuses on scamming the elderly.
Seniors in Sacramento are being targeted by scammers and emailed media publications that contain information to get seniors to give up their money. The Deceptive practices are mainly aimed at seniors. Some also may be aimed at college students. Don’t fall for scams about fraudulent “senior certifications” and other pseudo-financial designations.
To solve this problem, you need to check the authenticity of a financial adviser’s credentials. You need to find the resources on elder fraud, including those aimed at military retirees. Too many scams target aging veterans looking for veterans’ benefits for funeral services, usually aimed at getting ownership of a person’s home away from the elderly veteran before his children inherit his house. For further information, check out the Consumer Financial Protetction Bureau (CFPB) website.
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