I tell you, I hate people who target the elderly just to make a buck.

In this case, I’m talking about my mother, who’d probably want to kill me if she knew I referred to her as “elderly”, but she’s over 70 so it fits. I just finished talking to her on the phone, and she told me a story that just irks me to no end. The reason it irks me is because I knew it was a scam as soon as she started, but she did figure it out for herself. Here’s the tale.

She got this phone call from a group asking for money for some cancer charity. She doesn’t know the names of all these cancer charities, but my parents have given to charities a lot, mainly local charities. The woman never said they were a local charity, but she talked about all the good the money would go to. My dad had lung cancer, and my grandmother has had two bouts with breast cancer, so Mom’s susceptible to people asking for money. However, the woman kept asking her if she could pay the money in two days. Mom thought that was suspect, but she said yes.

She got something in the mail the next day, and it said she’d be sending the money to Michigan; we live in New York. So she decided to call the number on the card, and she got an answering machine indicating it was some pharmacy. She called a second time just to make sure she dialed it correctly, and she had.

The next day, the phone rings, and it’s this same woman, only this time, according to Mom, she’s not as friendly as she was the first time they talked. The woman said they didn’t get her payment, and needed her to send it out that day. Mom said she thought they were a local organization and would be giving in town, and the woman told her they gave to charities all over the United States. Mom then told her about calling the phone number, and the woman said “I don’t know what that’s all about, but call this number I’m going to give you as soon as we hang up,” and proceeded to give her another number. Of course, at that point Mom smells a rat, didn’t call, and hasn’t heard back from these people since.

I told my mother to please stop picking up the phone if she sees it’s an 800 number of any kind, because all of them either want money from her or want to sell her something. She said she wouldn’t pick up any more of these numbers, and I hope she sticks to it. But I’m still bothered, because these people obviously had some information on her and my family history, which they shouldn’t, and they tried to appeal to her in that fashion. Luckily, Mom’s not your average gullible bear, but if they’d been a little sharper they’d have had her money.

Just like my post on tax scams, these things seem so simple and easy to pick out, but I forget that not everyone has their eyes open enough to smell these things for what they are, especially older people. I don’t know what to say to help them directly, so I’ll appeal to you, my readers, to look out for your parents and older friends, and don’t let them be victimized in this fashion. These are the people someone needs to track down and put in jail.