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Is this a scam? Tips to identify fraud schemes and who to call for help

Original post made on Jul 1, 2022

Scammers targeting older adults are experts at throwing their victims off balance by presenting urgent situations that can be solved only by the immediate transfer of cash.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 1, 2022, 6:59 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by Rhonda Peters
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 1, 2022 at 3:45 pm

Rhonda Peters is a registered user.

• Family/Caregiver Scam: Scammers are relatives or acquaintances of the victims and take advantage of them or otherwise get their money.

This type of elder fraud/abuse is very difficult to pursue because conservatorship-related trust assets and real property are often under the control of a court-appointed conservator and any/all disputes are considered a civil matter to be addressed in probate court.

And in many of these cases, the family assets are being administered by an unscrupulous private professional fiduciary or a greedy family member serving as trustee/conservator of the disabled elder's personal and financial affairs.

The key is for elder citizens to avoid or resist conservatorships at all costs because it is essentially a legalized license to steal.

How to avoid? Prior to being diagnosed as mentally incapacitated, draw up a Power of Attorney designating a trusted individual to personally carry out your wishes in the event of dementia, Alzheimer's, or a debilitating stroke.

This legal measure must be taken BEFORE you are deemed mentally disabled and is invalid if pursued after the fact (e.g. a medical diagnosis of mental incapacity).

The other scams can easily be avoided with common sense and good judgement.

Posted by Paul Jessup
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 2, 2022 at 9:45 am

Paul Jessup is a registered user.

Elder Conservatorships are a legalized racket designed to deplete family assets including real estate holdings.

It is a very predatory business and best avoided if possible.

Probate attorneys and professional fiduciaries are actively involved in the process/scheme...lawyers by racking up questionable billable hours and conservators (oftentimes a professional fiduciary or family member serving as a trustee/conservator) by racking up questionable expenses.

There are others involved as well including refinance and foreclosure real estate agents.

The target zone is generally focused on family estates worth $2 million or more (including home property) and given the high cost of residencies in the midpeninsula and elsewhere, this dollar amount is easily reached.

Don't fall prey to this one. The other noted scams can be easily avoided by not responding to them.

Posted by Chuck Buhle
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Chuck Buhle is a registered user.

Wrongful conservatorships are something that every senior with a sizeable estate should be aware of.

Do not trust anyone (e.g. probate lawyers, avaricious family members, or probate judges etc.) to protect your best interests because they all have a vested interest in ripping you off.

Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Palo Alto native is a registered user.

I fell for a scam two years ago and lost quite a bit of money. It was quite sophisticated, but I did fall for it. The Palo Alto police department set an investigator out, but nothing actually came of it. I really felt that the police department could have passed on all this information to other authorities so that other people would not fall for the scam. I felt the police department did not do a good job and should’ve had a contact in the FBI for international scammers from India getting through the Internet/phone lines. Also Bank of America should revise some of their procedures!

Posted by Cameron Locke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2022 at 3:47 pm

Cameron Locke is a registered user.

It is very difficult to pursue consumer fraud emanating out of foreign countries (e.g. India, Nigeria etc.).

Common sense dictates to be wary of outside solicitors who speak with a 3rd world accent or improper English.

Posted by Julia Withers
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 4, 2022 at 10:19 am

Julia Withers is a registered user.

Older people are more prone to these scams because their thought processes have diminished.

Loneliness is another consideration as these scammers also give them someone to talk to.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2022 at 11:01 am

Citizen is a registered user.

Legitimate entities do not help by being seemingly unaware of how scammers take advantage, for example, making a response only possible by clicking on a box without providing a direct way of reaching the URL via a trusted site. Nextdoor does that but they are not alone. I am still waiting for a response to find out if a cable survey from Tom Dubois is legit. It’s frustrating how these scammers interfere with ordinary life that way.

I once ordered some items from a Swiss company that ships internationally. I was called by a rude local shipping company I didn’t recognize (when I looked them up they had such low ratings, it seemed a scam), who didn’t offer specifics but told me to give them my personal info or they would send the items back to “Germany.” It sounded like a scam so I ignored it. I never got an email from customer service. Just in case, I reached out directly and provided the info that way. But it was already too late.

Another one that isn’t mentioned above but really should be in the current political environment is elder scams of people on rightwing political lists. Liz Cheney laid out a pretty clear roadmap of how Trunp and his orbit used aggressive, specific claims, in this case of voter fraud in the 2020 election, as cover. The Justice department (under very rightwing Republicans) investigated promptly and seriously, and found none to be credible.

But Trunp kept making the claims which continued to be amplified on rightwing networks. The result is that a large percent of Republicans still believe it, and Trunp used this to raise over $250 million for an election defense fund that didn’t exist. Some of the money has since been funneled to his hotels.

From what I can tell, they are still plying older people. selling products and ginning up their beliefs of made-up Trunp and rightwing victimhood to shake down these elderly who sometimes are even estranged from family by this longtime disinformation.

How to follow up?

Posted by Mark Jacobs
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 4, 2022 at 11:30 am

Mark Jacobs is a registered user.

To blame Donald Trump for bad purchasing decisions made by senior citizens borders on the absurd.

By exercising common sense, these scams targeting elders can be easily prevented.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2022 at 10:18 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

In posted Public Letters to the Palo Alto City Council — the city is posting scam letter from all part of the world. The scammers are asking the city for money or inviting the city to claim inheritance payouts. Is paid city staff not vetting letters or is this nepherious nature? The senders are pleading as if they are in distress. I have gotten such in my email in box. Is the legally bound to publish scam letters? Really important public comment letters to council are buried among these scam letters, making public discourse difficult and cumbersome to follow.

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