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June 20, 2011

Broomfield Man's Plight Shines Light on Scams of Elderly (USA)


Broomfield man`s plight shines light on scams of elderly
06/19/2011

A grandfather receives a phone call from a blocked number. On the other end is someone claiming to be his grandson. The grandson says he was visiting Canada for a friend`s funeral, when he accepted a ride from the wrong group of people and, long story short, he`s been arrested for drug possession. He is in desperate need of bail money, but doesn`t want to tell his parents. He asks his grandfather to wire him money, and not tell his parents about the situation until he gets home.
The grandfather, of course, wants to help, and wires the money without talking to the boy`s parents about the situation. Later, the grandfather receives another phone call, this time from someone claiming to be a police sergeant. The sergeant tells him the co-defendants in his grandson`s drug case hired a high-powered attorney and he should wire money to do the same, or his grandson might take the wrap. Again the he wires the money, this time to a lawyer`s bank account in the Cayman Islands.
The calls with new situations requiring more money continue for four days, until the now-suspicious grandfather heads over to his grandson`s house, where he finds his grandson, who had never left the country at all. He had been working long hours and had not paid his cell phone bill, which is why his grandfather couldn`t reach him when he called. The grandfather calls back the supposed Canadian police to find the phone is disconnected and his is money long gone.
It`s not a tale to be checked on Snopes.com, but rather the actual account of a phone scam perpetrated on a Broomfield resident between May 31 and June 3. The 80-year-old man has asked only to be identified as Gene, because of the embarrassment of the situation.
Gene said when the scam was all said and done, the scam artists took him for an estimated $19,500. While the amount is staggering, he said it didn`t financially cripple him. And since he has taken his case to the Broomfield police, he has heard of other seniors who were taken by the same scam and were not so lucky.
He said he hopes that if other seniors hear his story, they will be warier of these "grandparent/grandchild" scams, which are becoming more prevalent around the world.
"I`m no dummy and I`m not senile," Gene said. "I know about all these financial frauds against seniors. I just did not see this thing coming. It`s such a little place to get right into your heart and hook you."
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of the U.S population is age 65 or older, and 7 percent of the Broomfield population is 65 or older. AARP reports that people age 50 and older make up roughly half of those victimized by Internet or telemarketing scams in the United States every year.
Broomfield Detective Julie Ostrander investigates property crimes. She said this scam has becoming increasingly common locally over the past two years, with phony grandkids calling in, typically from Canada or Jamaica, to ask for bail money.
RESOURCES 
Here are some fraud and scam prevention resources.
ElderWatch: Call the toll-free hotline at             800-222-4444       orhotline.aarpelderwatch.org
The Denver Regional Council of Governments:            303-455-1000       ornetworkofcare.org and click on the Broomfield County link
17th Judicial District Attorney`s Office: To schedule free presentations, call            303-835-5639     







Abridged
SOURCE:     BroomfieldEnterprise
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