Jun 22, 2009

Fake Checks and Sucker Lists -- Scams

From the Wall Street Journal comes a tale of how an elderly, well-educated man fell victim to fraudsters who lured him into writing checks for a variety of scams. In less than one year, he'd sent out $23,000 worth of checks -- despite repeated efforts on the part of his family to get local law enforcement and others involved. Finally, the victim granted his son a power of attorney to manage his finances -- but even then, he kept writing checks for scams.

Scammers were extremely effective in gaining his trust, preying on his isolation to gain access to his confidential financial information. Worse, once he had gotten involved in a few of them, his name ended up on a "Sucker List" that was sold to other scammers, leading to an avalanche of other fraudulent offers.

One scam, in particular, has gained in popularity: a fake check, purporting to be an advance payment for winnings to come. The victim cashes the check, sends the cash to the scammer, and then is on the hook when the check bounces a few days later.

If your elderly relative is getting such calls and offers, here are some helpful tips from the article:

For more information on elder fraud and how to prevent it, see Long-Term Care, by Joseph Matthews (Nolo).