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Crisis Prevention and Seniors Senior Fraud and Scams

Avoiding COVID-19 Scams

This article was originally posted on HealthInAging.com

Unfortunately, some people

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Senior Fraud and Scams

IRS stimulus check scam warning: Don’t answer calls, texts …

The US government isn’t calling about your stimulus check

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Senior Fraud and Scams

3 Rules to Help Avoid IRS Scams This Tax Season

Don’t let fraudsters add to your filing stress

This article was originally posted on AARP

In the long list of Adult Things That Aren’t Fun, filing your taxes is pretty close to the top. Even worse is getting ripped off in a tax scam.

If you want to safeguard your money

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Senior Fraud and Scams

When It Comes To Dating, Take The Too Good To Be True Approach

Seniors searching for love can fall prey to dating dangers. That’s why I wanted to share the article below. This was part of a series on “Scam Me If You Can” as seen in AARP magazine:

Melissa Trent’s heart jumped when she saw a new message from a user called “lovetohike1972” on her account with dating website Plenty of Fish that Thursday in April 2017. A 40-something single mom, Melissa had experienced bad luck finding anyone nice who shared her love of the outdoors, so she was eager to check this person out. She was not disappointed. His account featured photos showing a handsome, fit, smiling guy in hiking clothes, engaged in outdoor activities. His interests included hiking, bkiking, skiing and craft beer – all things that Melissa liked.

After exchanging a few messages, she gave the man her cell number. He reached out that evening. His name was Jeff Cantwell. New in town, he had just relocated to Colorado  Springs from Alaska.

A few days later, Melissa agreed to meet Jeff. He looked just like his photographs; that gave her a feeling of security. He regaled her with stories about his adventures. There was no argument over the bill – Jeff paid. A few days later, he asked what her two daughters like to eat and then came over to make spaghetti and meatballs.

The two were soon in constant contact. Jeff told Melissa he’d lost his parents in a car accident that had also claimed the life of his fiancee and their baby. He said he’d been in Afghanistan, where he was injured.

“We really liked each other,” she says. Or so it seemed. But soon Jeff’s behavior started to raise red flags.

Jeff asked to borrow a little cash. He was having issues with his Veterans Affairs benefits. Whenever a check was deposited, his account froze until the check cleared. It seemed plausible to Melissa. And Jeff said he needed only $100, to see him through the weekend, and he would pay it back promptly on Monday. Then they decided to go to a casino, and Jeff asked if she could instead withdraw $200 from her account – $100 to get him through the weekend and $100 more for them to gamble with. She consented, and they stretched the gambling money for 10 hours of fun before it was gone.

During their time at the casino, she overheard Jeff talking to another customer about living in Alaska and heard him say, “My mom is Inuit,” in the present tense. But he’d told Melissa that his parents were deceased.

The following Monday, Jeff said he was still having trouble with his account and needed to drive to a branch of his bank an hour away. Despite misgivings, she agreed to let him take her new Audi. And she reluctantly let him borrow a credit card for gas.

When hours passed without word from Jeff, Melissa texted him. He said that by the time he had gotten to the bank, it was closed. He’d stay overnight, sleeping in her car, in the bank parking lot. “Chill out,” he texted. He’d never spoken to her like that.

Melissa was finally forced to face the likelihood that something was very wrong in her new relationship. When Jeff refused to prove he was really at the bank, she decided to call the county sheriff’s office.

Police soon informed Melissa that “Jeff Cantwell” was acutally Jeffrey Dean Caldwell, a 44-year old criminal who had been incracerated in several states for felonies ranging from burglary to writing bad checks.

Caldwell often trolled internet dating sites and trailheads looking for targets. He’d been paroled in September 2016, after serving time for identity theft in Colorado. But after he connected with Melissa, he had stopped checking in with his parole officer.

Eventually, Caldwell was arrested, in South Dakota. By then he’d maxed out Melissa’s credit card and cleaned out her bank account.

Melissa got her Audi back, but it was a mess. Caldwell had gone on a craft beer tour and decorated the car’s exterior with stickers from breweries he had visited.

The Lessons

Since the first internet dating sites appeared, in 1993, online dating has soared – and so have romance scams. In Melissa’s case, the two people actually met. More commonly, the fraud is done entirely online by an impostor, often working several romance scams at once, often from a foreign country (many of these scams come out of Africe). These windles often target older Americans, who might have more financial resources and a greater chance of being alone. To avoid being the victim of a romance scam:

  • Go outside the dating site to research the person. For example, use the website “TinEye or Google Images to “search by image” and see if that person’s photo shows up in other places under a different name.
  • Be skeptical of stories designed to elicit sympathy, like Jeff’s account of his family being killed in a car crash and his claim that he had been injured in Afghanistan.
  • Beware of requests for money – the biggest red flag. If that happens, say no and go on full alert.
  • Never provide your last name, phone number, address or place of work until you’ve gotten to know someone well enough to trust him or her.
  • Turn off location settings if you use a mobile app for dating, so cons can’t figure out where you live or visit.
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Financial and Legal Matters and Seniors Senior Fraud and Scams

Beware of Fake IRS Agents

When I hear the stories of seniors who get scammed, it just breaks my heart. That’s why I wanted to share the article below. This was part of a series on “Scam Me If You Can” as seen in AARP magazine:

When Megan Murfield, then 40, answered a phone call in early 2018, two people were on the line: a woman and a man, both claiming to work for the Internal Revenue Service. “They said I owed $2,085 in back taxes and that if I didn’t put 50 percent down, I was going to go to jail,” Megan says. The woman told her, “We have never gotten a response from you, so it has been considered an intentional fraud, and a lawsuit has been filed under your name by the United States government.” The man said, “The arrest warrant is released on your name.”

“I was scared,” Megan recalls. She walked to a nearby Walgreens and did as the IRS “agents” instructed: She bought a gift card. She then scratched off the strip to reveal the numbers on the back and read them to the scammers over the phone. “The man told me I had to go back into the store and buy more cards,” she says, her emotions still raw almost a year later. “I kept telling him how cold it was outside, and he’d just say, ‘That’s OK, ma’am – just keep scratching off and reading the numbers to me.”

The man kept her on the phone the whole time, warning her not to tell anyone why she was buying so many cards with cash. In all, she bought $650 worth of gift cards, not the amount originally demanded but enough to appease the crooks.

Megan was so frightened that she called one of her coworkers to tell her she might not make it to work the following Friday because she was going to be arrested for tax evasion. After hearing the story, the coworker said she was worried her friend was being scammed. Megan then realized what had happened to her. The scammers had gotten her “under the ether,” as the condition is known among conartists – that heightened emotional state where you’re unable to think clearly or make rational decisions.

But it was too late; her money was gone for good.

THE LESSONS

This is a classic imposter fraud; it’s rampant in America right now, and older Americans are often targeted because they are more likely to answer the phone and be trusting of the “authority”on the other end. But foiling these phone frauds is relatively easy, as long as you know how the federal government – and most scammers – operate.

  • The IRS doesn’t notify people of tax issues by phone until it has sent written communications – usually multiple times. So just hang up if you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent or representative.
  • The IRS and its collection agencies don’t accept payments via gift cards – period. If anyone claims to be from a government agency and asks you for a payment using a gift card, this is without doubt fraudulent.
  • Government agencies don’t make idle threats such as saying they’ll freeze your assets, revoke your driver’s license or change your immigration status. If you have legitimately broken tax law, the government will follow due process, meaning there will be letters and in-person hearings.
  • The IRS doesn’t send out unsolicited emails or ask for detailed personal and financial information via email. Delete emails purporting to be from the IRS, and don’t click on links.

Have you dealt with impostor fraud? Leave a comment below.

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Senior Fraud and Scams

‘Free’ DNA Testing Used to Scam Medicare Recipients

States sound alarm about fraudsters urging cancer screenings.

This article was posted on AARP.

Jerry Armstrong, an IBM retiree in mountain-fringed Sonora, Calif., got a phone call out of the blue.

Did he have any direct relatives who had cancer, and would he like a free DNA test that would reveal his propensity for the disease?

Armstrong, 76, whose mother, sister and daughter suffered from cancer, never suspected that the call could be a scam.

The Californian, who was a U.S. Air Force medic in Vietnam and spent 25 years with IBM before retiring as a senior buyer, was keen to take the test.

So he gave the caller,

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Senior Fraud and Scams

$1.2 Billion Medicare Fraud – Stay Alert!

This article was shared by Age Options
As we have discussed in past Fraud Alerts, Durable Medical Equipment (DME) fraud is one the biggest scams we see in Illinois. Earlier this month, the Office of Inspector General with the help of the FBI, IRS, and other federal agencies announced federal indictments against individuals allegedly involved in DME fraud. Additionally, the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) took action against 130 medical equipment companies.
According to these indictments, international call centers were used to up-sell or give “free” braces to beneficiaries regardless if they needed them. These call centers then allegedly gave kickbacks to telemedicine companies for the DME orders. The telemedicine companies then would allegedly pay doctors to write medically unnecessary DME orders. Doctors are needed to sign off on the orders in order for Medicare to pay for the braces.
You can read the whole article and more details about this scam and indictments from the U.S. Department of Justice here.
Remember, Medicare will never call you, and you should only give your Medicare card number out to your doctors or providers. If you have received one of these phone calls and have given out any information, you can report this with the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions at (800)699-9043.
This report from CBS 2 Chicago, showcases the stories of two beneficiaries in Illinois whose Medicare accounts were billed for braces that they did not need. CBS 2 Chicago aired this story when they reported the recent federal indictments, you can read the whole story

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Senior Fraud and Scams

5 Ways Medicare Theft Affects You Directly

How scam artists steal from you…

 

Practices such as phantom billing, which means charging Medicare for services not delivered, leaves money in the hands of fraudsters.

Medicare fraudsters steal billions from the system and they can also have a direct impact on your wallet and medical records.

  • Medical identity theft
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Senior Fraud and Scams

Beware of scams targeting older people during the holidays

This article was shared on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Our Office for Older Americans is working to provide older consumers and their families with the tools and information they need to protect themselves from frauds and scams.

Scams that target older people occur every day, but you can count on scammers to ramp up their efforts to prey on people

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Senior Fraud and Scams

Hang up on spoofed SSA calls

If you get a call that looks like it