Watch out, Grandma.
You, too, Gramps.
Swindlers have been increasingly active lately in Luzerne County, contacting potential victims in the 65-plus age category with all types of trickery aimed at separating them from their money.
One common telephone con sounds like this:
Congratulations, you’re a big money winner! To claim your gigantic cash prize, just send us a few details about yourself and a check to cover the one-time processing fee.
Another fraud perpetrated on seniors starts something like this:
We have bad news; your grandson’s been jailed here in Cancun (or Cleveland or someplace in Canada) on some minor charges. He can’t be released without posting bail, and he desperately wants to come home. If you want to help, wire $5,000 to …
Unfortunately, these ploys work often enough to keep the criminals plugging away each day at their dirty schemes.
Two Kingston women, ages 84 and 90, say they were targeted. Each might have forked over thousands of dollars, never to see it again, if not for the intervention of some alert employees at the Price Chopper supermarket in Wyoming. They’re trained to raise red flags if wiring money for customers and something seems awry.
Kingston’s Police Chief Mike Krzywicki says he hears about similar incidents two to three times a week.
Beyond telephone fraud, older residents sometimes fall prey to health insurance fraud, reverse mortgage scams, investment schemes and even funeral and cemetery fraud. Senior citizens get targeted for several reasons, not the least of which is many of them have accumulated significant nest eggs, according to information distributed by the FBI. Seniors of “the Greatest Generation” also tend to have been raised to be polite and trusting — sometimes to a fault.
Pennsylvania, with its nearly 2 million people 65 or older, seems to be a popular place for the criminals, many of them apparently operating outside the country, to zero in on intended victims. In response, law enforcement and elected officials are teaming up to caution people and provide common-sense tips.
During a recent public discussion about the so-called grandparent scam, Luzerne County Detective Larry Fabian told the audience: “If anyone receives a call of this nature, they should first ask the caller for their number and tell them they will call back. Tell them you want to first check with your family to find out what is going on.
“They will probably hang up,” he said, “and you won’t hear from them again.”
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, state Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, and state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, among others, also have tried to amplify the warnings.
If you, too, want to stamp out elder fraud in Northeastern Pennsylvania, contribute today to a startup awareness-raising campaign by sending your name, credit card number and … nope, you won’t be duped by that last line, will you?
Of course not. You’re on the lookout for swindlers.