Our San Diego nursing home abuse lawyers know that the holidays are a great time to check in on loved ones, including seniors. It can be easy to get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle, but a simple phone call to your loved ones to let them know you are thinking about them can go a long way. The holidays can also be a good time to check on the medical care your loved ones are receiving and to make sure they do not have any concerns about their finances.
Unfortunately, the holidays are also a time when unscrupulous scammers target senior citizens. A recent news article in the Mission Times Courier describes several common scams that often target elders. California elder financial abuse is a growing concern across the state, as well as across the nation. The article provides several examples offered by the San Diego Police Department of the kinds of schemes to which seniors are particularly vulnerable.
The Grandparent Scam
This common scheme involves a scammer posing as a grandchild in distress and asking his or her supposed grandparent for monetary assistance. Typically, a senior will receive a call from an unknown person who will immediately say “Grandma” or “Grandpa” after the victim answers the phone. The victim then will respond by stating the name of his or her grandchild (for example, “John” or “Jane”) to which the caller will say, “Yes, this is your grandson, John.” The caller will say they have gotten into trouble in a foreign country. For example, they may claim to need emergency surgery or that they have been arrested. The caller then will ask the victim to immediately wire money in the name of an unknown third party.
All seniors should be wary of such schemes. If this occurs, the senior should call a “good” phone number for his or her grandchild or confirm with the grandchild’s parents that the grandchild is in fact out of the country before wiring the money. Once the money is sent and received, it is gone for good!
The “International Lottery” Scam
Our San Diego elder abuse attorneys have also learned that the “International Lottery” scam is another common telephone scam. The caller will inform the victim they have won a substantial amount of money from the lottery of another country, usually Jamaica or Canada. The victim then will be instructed to wire money to cover the “taxes” associated with the lottery prize.
If the victim sends money, he or she often will receive several more calls asking for additional money to cover other expenses, such as insurance or fees. The reality is that the victim will never receive any winnings because it is a violation of federal law to participate in an international lottery. Again, once money is wired and received, it will be gone for good!
As a general rule of thumb, offers that sound too good to be true usually are. When determining the authenticity of such offers, common sense can go a long way. It is a good idea to be on the lookout for suspicious offers and to warn seniors about schemes such as the ones described above.
Please remember that elder financial abuse cases should be reported at your local Adult Protective Services agency and law enforcement agency immediately. Also, if you are worried that an elderly loved one has been taken advantage of, please consult a qualified legal professional as soon as possible. The lawyers at the Walton Firm are well versed in San Diego elder abuse law and know how to protect the rights of California’s seniors.
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