By Terry Miller
A recent event purporting to be part of Publishers Clearing House scammed a Temple City senior out of $2,000. The rouse is more common than you would think and seniors particularly are at risk.
She was told that she needed to advance funds to a company in the Philippines to ensure that the money she had won – $500,000 – would be delivered. The caller, who was very convincing, said that the “prize patrol” was slated to arrive later in the week but she needed to advance $1,000 to make sure they delivered. This actually happened twice and the senior was scammed out of $2,000.
We contacted the telephone number the victim gave us and discovered it was a location near Manila, Philippines. The person who answered the phone appeared shocked when we got through. After requesting information about the Publishers Clearing House the woman slammed the phone down and refused to answer repeated requests for interview.
Sadly, this could have been avoided had the senior known that Publishers Clearing House never announces winners and would never request money. In fact, PCH offers tips to seniors to avoid such con artists.
Every other Friday, the experts who prosecute these devastating financial crimes will offer warnings about the latest ploys targeting consumers in Los Angeles County – with a special emphasis on safeguarding seniors.
Educating seniors about financial fraud is one of District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s top priorities.
In an effort to fulfill that goal and in anticipation of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15), The DA is dedicating our first #FraudFriday Alert to financial elder abuse.
Visit their website at http://da.lacounty.gov/seniors for detailed information on more than a dozen different scams targeting people ages 65 and older. There you will find printer-friendly versions of these materials and a video message from District Attorney Lacey.
It may sound obvious but it still offers criminals the most direct line to seniors: the telephone.
That is how criminals are able to trick so many seniors into sending them money. In the “Grandma Scam,” con artists use information about the victim’s family members, gleaned from social media sites, to persuade them to send money supposedly to get a grandchild out of jail.
Be aware of common scams like this one. Telling others is the only way to stop it.
Use caller ID or an answering machine to screen calls. Don’t pick up the phone unless you recognize the number.
Check out the story before sending money. Call the grandchild or his/her parents.
Establish a secret password with family members so that you are able to verify it is truly a family member calling.
If you are concerned that a senior is being scammed, please contact your local law enforcement agency or the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-(877)-4-R-SENIORS (1-(877)-477-3646).
Follow @LADAOffice on Twitter for up-to-date news or tweet us with #FraudFriday to share experiences and tips to combat financial crimes.