Elderly most susceptible to being successfully scammed

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 10:01 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It seems anyone with a phone has gotten dozens, if not hundreds, of scam calls. It’s the elderly that get hit the hardest. Linda Gardener is a scam victim and wants to make residents aware of dangerous schemes.

Linda Gardener says she never thought it would happen to her.

“I got duped," Gardener said. "I mean I got sucked in to believing them, and I felt so stupid.”

“She ran to third avenue Market Basket," Gardener said. "There was a table set up with three people who were claiming that they were medical professionals and they were doing screening for DNA connections to cancer.”

Gardener’s housekeeper suggested she get tested.

“She thought it would be a good deal," Gardener said. "She’s had Ovarian cancer and she wishes she had prior notification.”

When Linda went to be tested, they checked her qualifications. One being she was a Medicare or Medicaid recipient. They later called her back and said she didn’t qualify. She then realized what she’d done.

“They didn’t ask for money but they got my Medicare card," Gardener said. "I realized it had to be a scam.”

It’s a situation that’s all to common among elderly residents.

Better Business Bureau President Angela Guth says while young people are targeted more, it’s the elderly that lose the most money. They lose an average of $400 per successful scam.

“Never release any financial information," Guth said. "Never release any personal information such as your social security number or your Medicare card.”

Scammers cover all grounds. They make calls, send mail, and even target online.

Just this year, the Federal Trade Commission noted Louisiana had over 16,000 reports of fraud, identity theft, or scam schemes with over $3,000,000 lost.

“It’s across the board on all different age groups," Guth said. "Some are more susceptible to engaging in those scams some are not.”

Rebecca LeBleu’s elderly family member has been tricked by scam callers.

“It’s heartbreaking," LeBleu said. "He’s putting his address first on all on these pieces of paper, along with the phone number, they’re asking for his routing number, they’re asking for banking information, they’re asking him to send a check because you know you have to pay X amount .”

She says it’s not easy to see a loved one fall victim.

“You always want to of course keep their dignity and not make them feel like they’re vulnerable," LeBleu said. " In that you have to kind of take some steps to make sure that you’re helping them not be vulnerable.”

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff, Tony Mancuso says they saw 118 “Theft by Fraud” cases in 2018 and 44 in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2019.

“They’re more vulnerable cause they’re trusting.” Mancuso said. “They came from an era when somebody told you this was happening it was truth. If you’re a senior out there if someone’s calling you and trying to get you to send money through your credit card through another source, just don’t do it. Call us and we’ll come make sure if it’s legit or it’s not legit.”

“We recommend that no one ever answer the phone unless you know who that end caller is," Guth said. “If it’s a robocall for instance, they are dialing thousands of phone numbers at the exact same time, hoping to get someone to answer the phone. They can spoof that caller I.D. to make it look like it’s a local number calling you, they can make it look like it’s lets say the IRS calling you, they can make it look like it’s Washington D.C. calling you.”

With an almost 6% increase in scams in 2018, authorities say the best thing to do is stay vigilant.

“Whenever you start feeling like you’re in a high pressure situation to make decisions quickly, that should be a little red flag for you to say hang on I want to think about this before acting,” Guth said.

Gardener warns it could happen to anyone.

“At the time I got pulled into the moment, I mean I’m an intelligent woman and know better than giving out my Medicare card or my personal information like that,” Gardener said. “Stop and think, and just realize that anything that’s too good to be true, is too good to be true.”

If you’ve been scammed contact the BBB at (337) 478-6253

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