"Warren" - Rutland, VT
"Warren" (name omitted to protect his privacy) is a trusting, highly-educated professional. He has degrees from both Dartmouth and Harvard. He did well with his investments. Unfortunately, a few years ago he began receiving phone calls and letters from what appeared to be official government organizations and official lotteries. The calls and letters promised large sums of money to Warren. In some cases, he was to send the scammers “investment” funds. In others, he was to send them money to cover “expenses and fees” before they could release money allegedly due to him. The calls and correspondence were frequent; Warren was overly trusting and was essentially brainwashed by these scam artists.
Warrenbegan sharing his financial and other personal information and sent the scammers significant amounts of money. By the time the courts became involved, Warren had sent the scammers over ½ a million dollars, by check and by wire transfer.
Things got so bad that five different banks in the Rutland area cancelled Warren’s bank accounts because they were concerned about the number of large checks being sent to questionable recipients.
In one particularly insidious case, the scammers told Warren that his recently deceased wife had taken out an insurance policy in which Warren was the named beneficiary. All he had to do to receive money due him was to first send the scammers several thousand dollars to cover “expenses”. Which he did. Needless to say, he never received a penny of insurance payout.
Many of the phone calls involved a factious “winning” of a $15 million lottery – which he had never entered.
His family finally got the police and courts involved. The Vermont Adult Protective Services Agency was also involved. Five years ago, my wife and I were appointed as guardians, charged with protecting Warren’s remaining assets. Since our appointment, Warren has not lost one penny more to scammers, although they have tried continuously, by both phone calls and letters.
In the last two months, Warren’s step-daughter began seeing notes at his house with names and telephone numbers from the Jamaican 8-7-6 area code. When she confronted him, Warren said they were from phone calls from a “Mr. Washington” to whom he was to send money. Between March and April, Warren received 30 phone calls from the 8-7-6 Jamaican area code. The callers were very persistent, at one point while she was present calling Warren 6 times in 10 minutes. Warren would not believe these calls were from scammers, no matter how often his step-daughter told him they were.
Since our guardianship has been in place, we have limited Warren’s access to money, to protect him against scammers. Despite limited money at his disposal, his step-daughter found two envelopes stuffed with money left over from Warren’s weekly allowance that he was getting ready to send to “Mr. Washington”. Fortunately, she was able to confiscate the money before it went in the mail.
Warren’s education and experience have not dampened his belief that these scam phone calls are legitimate.
Warrendoesn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s. He is not an uneducated individual. Yet for some reason he and many other seniors fall victim to these scam artists. It doesn’t register that they are being taken advantage of. I can’t explain it – but I’ve seen it firsthand.
Fortunately, Warren now has safeguards in place to protect him from scammers. However, this is not the case for many other seniors. They need protection.