While you do not have to have dementia or MCI (mild cognitive impairment) to be a victim of scammers, it certainly can make you easier prey. And these scammers know that. They hope for someone to answer the phone who has dementia. It makes their job much easier. And for families, it can be devastating.
My grandfather lost everything!” Sarah declared. “They took his life savings. And now when he needs money to pay for a nice assisted living he doesn’t have it. I am so angry about this. I don’t know what we will do. I guess my mom and I will try to care for him as best we can. After all, he was always there for us. But it’s not what he wanted. He feels embarrassed and he is pretty depressed also.”
The people running these scams are clever and convincing. They know which buttons to push. And they know how to trigger emotions like fear and worry.
Furthermore, these scammers know that the risk is low. Many seniors are too embarrassed to tell others what has happened. Especially if they are in the early stages of dementia So, they often go unreported. The bad guys are counting on this.
But don’t think they just target the wealthy. No indeed. Seniors who are already struggling can fall prey also. Often losing what little they had.
You may think your parent is doing okay living home alone. You may even be aware they are having problems with dementia or MCI. But they are not a wander risk, so you don’t worry too much. You check on them often and help out when you can.
But what goes on when you are not there?
The Grandparent Scam
Yes, this one has been around a long time. And yet many seniors are still falling prey to this one.
A senior home alone is vulnerable. They want to be connected to their family. And if someone needs help they are ready to do help. This scam is really easy to pull off on someone with dementia or MCI.
And if your parent has dementia, reminding them about this scam will not help. Because they will just forget.
A child will call ad usually ask Hi Grandma or Grandpa do you know who this is? The victim of this scam will then usually say a child’s name giving the scammer the information they need. Then they will pull on the heartstrings confessing to the grandparent that they have gotten into some trouble and need some help. They beg the senior not to tell mom and dad because they will be in big trouble. Then they ask for money (for overdue rent, car repairs, etc.) Additionally, they will ask that the money is sent by western union or Moneygram because ID is often not required to collect. The amount is usually in the hundreds and may be repeated.
There are a lot of different investment schemes that target seniors especially those with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Seniors are often concerned because they are no longer working. They are looking for ways to grow what money they have left to keep up with the high cost of living. Pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s targeted a lot of seniors. And the Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money is still targeting our most vulnerable seniors.
You may have trouble believing that your parents could fall victim to one of these scams.
But it happens. Sometimes cognitive impairment or Dementia is to blame. Family members may not even be aware that Dad is having a problem with his memory and thought process. Parents are often very good at hiding their problems from the children. And the adult child often does not want to see that there is a problem. Dad is just eccentric, they believe. That is until the money is gone.
Telemarketing and Phone Scams
It is no surprise that telemarketers target older folks. They are often home alone all day. As such they will gladly pick up the phone and chat with the nice person on the other end. These smart scammers also know that seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average.
And these scams are incredibly hard to trace. Because there is no paper trail and no face to face interaction. Furthermore, once a successful scam has taken place, the buyer’s name is then shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets.
“Luckily my sister decided to help mom with her banking. Unfortunately, it was too late to save her from losing some of what little money she had.
Sharon noticed that Mom had an automatic withdrawal on her account. For the last 6 months, someone was withdrawing $150 a month. When questioned Mom seemed confused.
The bank could not stop the transactions because the scammers had a recording of mom agreeing to the monthly withdrawals. Our banker said that most likely they engaged mom in a conversation and recorded it. They then spliced together the right words to make it sound like she had agreed.
We ended up having to close out the bank account and start a new one somewhere else.” ~Kay
And These Are Just 3 Of The Scams That Target Seniors
Unfortunately, many scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic. Listen to the following interview with Jennifer from the senior medicare patrol about the latest scams.
The key is to pay attention to what is going on in mom or dad’s life. Ask them if they would like some help with the finances. This can be a touchy subject. But it is smart to have someone on the account to monitor any unusual behavior. If you are able to go in weekly and look at the transaction you may be able to stop a problem before it gets out of control.
And accept the fact that Mom or Dad may have dementia or MCI. The sooner you accept this the better it will be. If there is a mental problem you can take steps to ensure a senior you love doesn’t lose all their money.
Hopefully, this never happens to you or someone you love. But if it does tell others so they will not fall prey to the same problems.
In honor of our founder Pat Mack, we are carrying on the tradition of caring for our residents in "The Light Heart Way"
Call_281-282-0770 to schedule a tour of Light Heart Memory Care.
And remember to have a light heart. Everything is going to be okay.