Saturday, July 04, 2009

Millions of Americans are Victims of Marketing Fraud each year

Millions of Americans are Victims of Marketing Fraud each year. Don’t be one of them

An interesting alert was published by Karen Blumenthal in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (June 17) on scams perpetrated on the elderly. Unfortunately, everything Blumenthal wrote was already familiar territory for me and my siblings. It brought to mind our family’s run in with these con artists. We had previously endured the rip-off of two of our relatives. Millions of Americans are victims of marketing fraud each year. The elderly are among the chief prey. They are easy and they have money.

We found out about my mother’s fraud one day when I called to tell her she had won $100 on a legitimate lottery ticket that I had purchased for her from my alma mater. She laughed and told me that was nothing. Her luck had turned and she was waiting for a man in a limousine to come and give her a check for 50,000 pounds for her Irish lottery ticket winnings. She just had to pay a transfer fee of $100.00 to him when he got there. I asked her when this would be and then got hold of my siblings. They were able to head this off and have the police there to arrest the man when my mother turned over her money. It turned out the scam was run out of Canada and not much could be done. But we got a few of the locals involved in the scam. The local police referred us to the FBI. They filled us in on what was going on. They could do very little except give us information and inform the Canadian authorities. My mother’s sister had been doing similar things. She sent money to lotteries all over the world in cash. She received phone calls from Jamaica and this cost her $400 in the scam. They took her number and used it. The phone company gave us some credit of but not much. The scammers got their credit cards and charged a monthly fee to them in the scam. We looked at my mom’s losses over 4 years and found it was $40,000.00.

The major tricks are in weight loss, and lotteries with three million new targets a year. Like my mom, they like to send checks to your loved one and have them deposit them and immediately send money back to them. The check bounces and your bank expects you to make it good. You are stuck with the charges.

These scams are mainly run out of Jamaica, Canada and The Netherlands, although many US run scams exist. What can you do to protect your elderly loved ones from this? You have to be an 800 pound gorilla with soft hands. Parents want their independence. However, they have decreased physical and mental capacities and can no longer function alone. You may have to get legal power of attorney to handle their financial affairs. You may need to take their check book, close credit cards, and check the mail and get rid of the junk mail they get. Go through it all as this is where the scams come to them. Telephone number(s) and usage may need terminated or controlled. Remember that these folks are now on the extortionist’s list and get sold to other scammers.

Two of the scammers were arrested and tried in Boston federal courts. We are kept up to date on the progress and sentencing which we were asked to comment on. And we did. We asked for maximum sentences for these animals that prey on the elderly (they got 10-15 years). If you have family in this age group, please check out the article as it has a lot of good information to help you with. Hopefully, you’ll be more aware of it than we were.


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