How can we protect our parents when can just as easily fall victims ourselves?
This post picks up a story already in progress as told by a friend of mine about the time she and her 70-year-old Mother fell victim to a phone scam. Think it can’t happen to you? It TOTALLY can!
My friend just happened to be in town with her Mother at the time the scam was going down and even though she “smelled the scam” in progress, the ne’er-do-wells still took them on a wild ride and cost them $1500.
Want to go back to the beginning of the story? Click here. Otherwise, I’ll let my friend pick the story up here at the end of the saga..
Diane, there are too many specific details to go into, however, the reality is that even I, a smart, educated, savvy 45+-year-old woman who has lived, worked and traveled through the big cities in our country, even I fell for it – hook, line and sinker!
They were SO convincing and had an answer for everything! Even though I suspected it was a scam, they were SO good at distracting me and putting time-sensitive pressure on everything that needed to happen “before the close of business” and “in the next hour” – my attention was so expertly directed, that I completely lost my critical thinking skills.
Looking back, it is scary just how aware I was… and STILL, how easily this happened – to ME TOO!
To add to the stress, there was a very extreme weather event going on at the time all this was going down. Driving rain, thunder lightening, 65 mph wind-gusts, downed trees and flash-flooding. In hindsight, I am convinced this too was a calculated element of the scam – just include weather data in the algorithm you create re who you plan to target on a given day – et voila!
So, in the middle of this crazy weather event, my 70 year old mother and I sprang into action. We made Herculean efforts to pick up cash and get it wired to a specific Western Union office in Canada before close of business.
It could not have been more insane! We were driving around the suburbs of Philadelphia in the middle of the micro-burst thunderstorm, through torrents of rain that made it impossible to see the road and were dodging fallen trees every few miles. We BARELY made the 5pm deadline – but we did!
We were SO relieved that Sarah was going to be able to handle things in Canada, get her car out of hock and be back home, snug in her New Jersey bed by 3am. Mission accomplished!
It wasn’t until Mom and I were able to take a collective sigh of relief that the Doubting Thomas in me thought to call Sarah’s cell phone.
We were still in the Western Union parking lot when I did – Sarah answered with a big smile and chipper “hello!” She was NOT in Canada!
I handed the phone to my Mother and dashed back into the Western Union only to find out that the money had JUST – literally seconds ago – been picked up. Goodbye $1500. An expensive lesson to learn.
Hallmarks of a Scam
Folks need to know that this “time-sensitive pressure” is actually one of the hallmarks of a scam. And when one’s stress level is high enough, from a physiological standpoint the added pressure can short-circuit the brain. Scammers count on THIS. They get you off balance. The more they can effectively shut down your ability to think critically, the more likely you are to do what they say.
A special thank you to my friend for sharing her story. It’s pretty shocking that our personal information can be used against us like this!
In the next few posts we’ll look at some of the reasons older adults are targeted and review other ACTIVE scams out there – specifically, current financial scams targeting seniors. In addition, we’ll go over some things you can do to help safe-guard your loved ones. – Click Here
This blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.