Monday, October 5, 2009....
Last Monday, I posted about a scam phone call I received (Mish Mash Monday) and many posted comments about how scary this was because elderly people would probably get taken.
When I was reading your comments I never imagined that Spidey Man (my 87 year old father -- see Spidey Man Intro for better peek of my dad) would be the victim of such scam artists. But, he was.
Spidey is very protective of his personal information and when Publisher's Clearing House called to tell him he won $2.5 million dollars, he was thrilled. Luckily, he shared this tidbit with my other sister as he was driving her home from the train station Friday night.
He told her they were coming to the house Saturday to go to the bank with him where he'd give them a check for $350 and they'd make the transfer of $2.5 million into his account.
She lost her mind (rightfully so), but couldn't be there Saturday to greet the scam artists, so she called me.
Bill and I called the police department the night before, not much could really be done, but we were to get license plate #. My other sister arranged with the neighbor for us to park in their driveway so the scumbag, oh, I mean scam artist, wouldn't know we were there.
We go to Spidey Man's early Saturday a.m., Bill armed with a camera and me with a lot of sorrow and disgust knowing there are people who would rob an old man of his life savings.
Bill stayed by the car because he wanted to surprise the scumbags, oops, there I go again, I mean scam artists, and I went in.
Luckily, my dad listened to my sister and thought about what she said. The fake Publisher's Clearing house people called and when he told the person he hadn't mailed them the check and a trusted finance person told him not to do this, the representative told him to hold for the President of Publisher's Clearing House.
The "President" also tried to convince my dad what a great deal this was, Spidey told them under no terms not to come to the house and no check was going to be mailed to them. Publishing Clearing House hung up on him.
We had a long chat. I learned they wanted him to mail a check for $350 to a residential address in Charlotte, NC to handle the mailing expenses of the $2.5 million dollar check. Oh. My. God. Really? Has anyone paid $350 in shipping charges to send an envelope via UPS? Besides, if they were already coming over to go to the bank with my dad to give him the check, why does he have to incur a shipping charge?
Things I learned from my dad about this call:
1. When the scumbags (okay, let's just call them what they are) called, they told him they were from Publisher's Clearing House in Syosett, NY (I explained to Spidey any info can be found on the Internet).
2. They wanted $350 for shipping via UPS (asked my dad had he ever incurred a shipping charge that high for mailing a package....and asked him if he thought it fair to pay upfront for a winning).
3. My dad asked me how they knew he had submitted entries to Publishing Clearing House (I explained they probably didn't, but because he was receptive to their statement they went with it).
This was a close call. He had a check in an envelope ready to go (I ripped into pieces) and I gave him some info about scam sweepstakes to read. I told him the best defense was to be armed with knowledge.
Spidey is afraid, okay paranoid, about someone getting his personal info and we discussed what had happened. I explained once they had his banking info they could steal and worse case scenario remortgage his house and default on the loan. He thought the bank would stop someone from electronically withdrawing funds from his account and when I told him it wasn't their responsibility to do this, his ears perked up.
He went to the bank with a list of checks that he had written and froze the account (except for these checks). He was going to close it out and open a new one.
Only after explaining to him how other elderly people without children could be taken by these scumbags did he easily give up the info. I think he was embarrassed for falling for such a scam, but I assured him, others of all ages are being taken.
I just don't know what to really do with this info to make a difference and stop others from being taken.
I wonder if UPS or Publisher's Clearing House have gotten complaints from similar scams?
It broke my heart to see my dad, a man I leaned on growing up, be taken. Things will be changing for him and I hope he'll be able to cope.