Carmel, CA Elder Abuse Alert : Customer Service Scams

AARP Bulletin had an elder abuse alert for our area.  The article profiled a 75-year old man who saw a charge on his credit card that he didn’t recognize for Amazon Prime.  He did a google search for Amazon’s phone number and called the number, which turned out to be fake.  They asked him to confirm his credit card number, as well as his Social Security number.  “Scammers will buy and place fake ads that often elude the filters for the online search engines,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told AARP Bulletin.  They also tricked him into buying gift cards.  “When people are searching for customer service numbers, they are in a hurry and quickly scan for the first phone number they see,” he said.

Carmel, CA Elder Abuse Alert

Although anyone can be a victim of the many scams that criminals are carrying out now, data from the Federal Trade Commission shows that consumers age 80 and older are far more likely to be scammed by phone and lose the most money, a median of $1,250.  “Even if you do everything perfectly, you can still be susceptible to fraud,” Shameka Walker, a fraud and identity theft program manager at the FTC, told Kiplinger’s Retirement Report.  Most scammers are hacking in to find your email address and hawking you products that you may have been searching for.  Other popular scams are selling fake COVID-19 vaccines and PPE equipment to protect against the virus. Seniors living in Carmel, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach are particularly vulnerable as these crooks target high-income areas.

Marvel Comics Creator Stan Lee Suffered From Elder Abuse

There was a sad elder abuse story in AARP The Magazine about Stan Lee, the mastermind behind Marvel Entertainment which produced movies based on Lee’s character which grossed more than $22 billion at the box office.  That’s double the box office of all of the Star Wars movies combined.  Not only was he abused early on in his career—never owning a stake in any Marvel characters but simply earning a salary—later in life he was severely taken advantage of.  The company was sold in 2009 to Walt Disney for $4 billion.  But since Stan didn’t own a stake he had to resort to going to trade shows like Comic Con to sign autographs for $120 each.  The story talks to someone who shot a video of him when at age 95, his handlers had to actually tell him his name and spell it so that he could sign autographs.  Between his assistants, his daughter and others, money quickly evaporated as Lee moved into dementia.  One of his security team reportedly paid himself a management fee of $700K in 2017 while giving Lee $50K.  Another employee apparently forged Lee’s signature and took $4.6 million out of his Merrill Lynch account.  His daughter at the same time was earning $7,000 a month to help brainstorm ideas that might capitalize on her father’s name.  There are a number of court cases pending in this terrible case.

https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/celebrities/info-2020/stan-lee-elder-abuse.html

Pebble Beach, CA Elder Abuse Alert

There is no end to the number of scams being tried on seniors, particularly in the area of coronavirus.  The isolation from COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem, and a new report from the Federal Trade Commission said that scammers initiated contact with older adults online more often than they did by phone for the first time ever in the second quarter of 2020.  Adults 60+ were nearly 6x as likely as younger adults to lose money on tech support scams.  Those in Carmel and Pebble Beach are targeted more than other areas because of the wealth in this area.  If you think you have been scammed, call the National Elder Fraud hotline at 833-372-8311 and report it to the FTC by visiting the agency’s website or calling 877-382-4357.  It also wouldn’t hurt to call Monterey County Adult Protective Services at 1-800-510-2020 if you think other local residents could be targeted.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-protect-seniors-from-online-fraud-and-phone-scams-11611410401?mod=djem10point

Pebble Beach, CA Elder Abuse Alert

Although anyone can be a victim of the many scams that criminals are carrying out now, data from the Federal Trade Commission shows that consumers age 80 and older are far more likely to be scammed by phone and lose the most money, a median of $1,250.  “Even if you do everything perfectly, you can still be susceptible to fraud,” Shameka Walker, a fraud and identity theft program manager at the FTC, told Kiplinger’s Retirement Report.  Most scammers are hacking in to find your email address and hawking you products that you may have been searching for.  Other popular scams are selling fake COVID-19 vaccines and PPE equipment to protect against the virus.

Pacific Grove, CA Elder Abuse Alert : Customer Service Scams

AARP Bulletin had an elder abuse alert for our area.  The article profiled a 75-year old man who saw a charge on his credit card that he didn’t recognize for Amazon Prime.  He did a google search for Amazon’s phone number and called the number, which turned out to be fake.  They asked him to confirm his credit card number, as well as his Social Security number.  “Scammers will buy and place fake ads that often elude the filters for the online search engines,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told AARP Bulletin.  They also tricked him into buying gift cards.  “When people are searching for customer service numbers, they are in a hurry and quickly scan for the first phone number they see,” he said.

Monterey, CA Elder Abuse Alert : Sweepstakes Fraud

AARP Bulletin had an interesting story (November, 2020 page 32) profiling a serial elder abuse con man.  It profiled a man named Steven Thomas who for over 20 years has designed programs aimed at bulking seniors out of their hard earned pay, generating about $20,000 a month doing so.  He is now in prison, but has been cooperating with authorities regarding over 200 elicit sweepstakes scams.  His mailers for one client persuaded 400K victims to mail in over $50 million over a five year period.  He extensively used images of stock certificates as a hook to his scheme so that people would feel they were getting something of value.  He also used fonts similar to what banks use, and featured embossings and ornate borders, which many people fell for!

Carmel, CA Elder Abuse Alert : Fed Ex And UPS Tracking Alerts Could Be Fake

The holiday season, unfortunately, typically ushers in a ton of elder abuse scams.  The latest; fake package notifications from Amazon.com, FedEx, UPS and others.  With e-commerce sales hitting an all-time high due to the coronavirus, more and more email delivery alerts are popping up but they may not all be legitimate.  Fake email messages often contain the logo of the shipping company, making them look more legitimate.  Getting you to click on a link is the main objective of these scams.  Others send an attachment with malware in it, so never click on an attachment from an unknown sender.  Most come with a call to action such as purporting there is a problem with the shipping address or the payment method, attempting to get you to click through.  Always go to where you made the purchase to check on the order status. 

https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/20283-scam-alert-dont-be-fooled-by-a-fake-package-delivery-scam

Monterey, CA Elder Abuse Alert : Coronavirus Scams

Experts warn that the rapid expansion in coronavirus cases is going to result in a big increase in elder abuse scams.  Scams are being developed that promise to deliver you a COVID vaccine—it will be a fake just like Gucci bags that are commonly counterfeited.  Some are posing as being from Medicare or the Social Security Administration.  Neither will ask you for sensitive information.  In fact, I just got one the other day.  I picked up the phone and they asked my name, which I gave to them, then they asked for my date of birth to “verify my identity.”  I asked who was calling and they hung up!

https://www.maa-usa.org/About-Us/News-Article-Display-Copy/scams-likely-to-heat-up-after-covid-19-vaccine-rollout

Pebble Beach, CA Elder Abuse Alert : Creepy Santa Scam

There are always myriad elder abuse scams revolving around the holidays, but the most recent one is a revamp of an old scam, something of a pyramid scheme.  The scam goes like this : buy a $10 gift card and send it to your secret sister, then you will receive 6-36 gifts in return.  It actually works in the short term, similar to a pyramid scheme.  But over time, the holidays end and people no longer participate, and the scheme crumbles.  In addition to being potentially bilked, your friends will hate you if you catch them up in this scheme!  Stay alert and be careful this holiday season!