‘Seniors scamming seniors’ becoming common
Ted Hubert

Some senior citizens are now doing the scamming, so now a victim must protect their financial well being from people their age or older.

An AARP survey found 90 percent of the victims are men. A North Carolina couple, the Kepleys, lost $700,000 to a balding, heavy set man wearing a business suit. He was introduced as a financial planner.

“Mr. Hanson” was in his late 50s or early 60s and could talk the talk. He would engage the potential victims with conversation about the good old days. Being born in poverty and working from daylight to dark as a child helping make ends meet.

The victims could relate to his stories. They had been there and done that. As you would expect, the con artist was a loyal church going man that just wanted to help others.

He won the confidence of the couple which resulted in a business deal that they would regret for the rest of their lives. All of the savings were turned over to the man they trusted. They were promised great gains for their investment. No risks, every penny would be protected The Kepley’s were secure for life.

Hanson’s office was raided and he was arrested. The business was not authentic, but rather a Ponzi scheme that touched over 300 families and netted this criminal over 33 million dollars .

Hanson pled guilty and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. At 64 he would complete his punishment at age 86. What a waste of precious time.

Those convicted are unwilling to assume any responsibility for their actions. They lash out at the law enforcers. They are in denial. They did nothing wrong. Gary Kepley died in surgery a year later at age 67. The scam totally destroyed him. Gary worried about his finances and often lamented that he had worked all his life to enjoy the golden years. Hanson took it all.

Scammers get older day by day like everyone else. Seniors watch for seniors on senior investment scams. This works because elderly are prone to trust people of their generation. Being comfortable in the presence of an investor you trust places you in a danger zone. Drop your guard, you open yourself up to financial harm.

Records show that over 7.3 million people over 65 have been victimized. A 2010 survey taken by the Investor Protection Trust, shows some con artists are the same age as their victims.

Seniors become more dependent on family and friends in the waning years. Long term and short term memory problems are noticed and at the proper moment the thief strikes. Loneliness also sets the victim up for the sting. The victim wants company. They may pay dearly for someone to talk to.

Declining health causes the senior to seek relief and often those contacted take unfair advantage of the situat ion. Health problems also restricts one’s ability to leave the house to shop, attend church, travel or to do simple house repairs.

They must rely on others. They may be putting their trust in the wrong people. The traveling handymen offer to do the repair work. They need money upfront to purchase the materials to do the work. The money is freely given and the victim will never see the workmen or the money ever again.

Seniors with health problems are more likely to be home when telemarketers call. Availability works against those targeted for a scam.

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2013-02-21 digital edition

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