MoneyMindedMoms: Natural Victims

Jump to content

Natural Victims
Jun 06 2011 06:20 PM | Eva Rosenberg  in Protecting Your Family -----
My mother is a Holocaust survivor, rapidly approaching ninety years of age. She told me that someone called her, saying he is a volunteer with one of the reparation organizations, and wants to help her get some money. It’s always nice when one of those groups pop up and another tiny trickle of dollars comes her way.

But he said something very odd, and disturbing. He told her that he can arrange for my mother to receive a steady pension for the rest of her life - providing she pays back what she has received in the past. He’ll be happy to come out to her home and help her make the arrangements.

Clanging Alarm bells!!!

This sounds like the old Pigeon Drop scam, where the ‘mark’ is encouraged to risk some of her own money to get a share of more money.

It’s an ugly truth. Seniors are natural targets for scams. Even smart, savvy seniors. Imagine being alone most of the time, and someone comes along, pays attention, listens to you, pays you compliments. Wouldn’t you succumb?

Once the senior has parted with their name, Social Security number, date of birth, bank account number(s), credit card numbers, or other targeted information – the trickster disappears. The senior later finds his or her bank account wiped out, someone else filing medical claims under their Social Security number, or title to their home transferred.

The problem is so prevalent that the FBI website has an entire list of scams perpetrated against seniors, with information on how to avoid being victimized. Fundamentally, the best way to avoid being a victim is:

  • Never give your information to a stranger. PERIOD.
  • If someone claims to be associated with an organization with which you are familiar, call the organization directly verify the affiliation and position with the organization. (Use documents you have, call information, or look for the phone number online.)
  • Better yet, don’t provide information or sign anything without going to the organization’s offices and speaking to someone you know, or a manager.
  • Best of all, don’t speak to anyone who make an uninvited visit or call. Simply hang up.

Even if you are a not a senior, you have parents, grandparents and friends who are. Speak with them and make sure they follow these simple guidelines. Regardless of how savvy and independent they are, encourage them never to sign anything without someone they trust looking over the documents first.

One 85 year-old woman we knew was visited by two kind men, who knocked on her door, offering to help her fill out the new Medicare paperwork a couple of years ago. Before they left, they had convinced her to use all the funds in her bank account to buy some annuities. The annuities were locked in for 12 years, with substantial early withdrawal penalties. They scored commissions of 20% or more. She would lose access to her funds, for probably the rest of her life.

My mother won’t be talking to this fellow alone. Will yours?

Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of , where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at and other tax courses at


Page 1 of 1

Sabrina O’Malone 

09 June 2011 - 11:15 AM
What a nightmare Eva. I'm glad your Mom wasn't drawn in by this. It's just another reason to maintain close relationships with the elderly people you know and love.

I like to think my own Mom wouldn't fall prey to something like this, but at the very least, I'd hope she'd call me or my brother to talk it over with us before even letting someone into the house.

I'll be sure to pass this info along.
Page 1 of 1