Thwarting scams against elderly


There are criminals who make phone calls to people attempting to steal money from them. They have a whole encyclopedia of reasons why their victims should send them money; not $10 or $50, but big money — thousands. Sometimes they are caught and jailed, but most times not. When they think law enforcement may be closing in on them, they just throw away their phones, get new ones, and continue on.

A few days ago a store employee noticed an elderly man in the store looking at Visa gift cards. He also had his cell phone to his ear. He asked her if it was possible to put $1,800 on one of those cards. She answered, “Yes”, and the man spoke into his phone, “The clerk says I can do it. Will that keep me out of jail?”

However, the clerk is a former Warren County deputy sheriff and immediately recognized this as a scam. Later on the man told her this caller told the man that he would be arrested for “failure to appear for jury duty” unless he paid $1,800. She asked, “May I speak to him?” She asked the caller, “What’s your name?” He responded, “I’m with the sheriff’s office. Put (the elderly man) back on.” She told him, “No, you’re not with the sheriff’s office …The sheriff’s office does not make phone calls like this, ever!” He hung up. The man was very grateful to her for saving him from making a huge mistake.

The next day he returned and handed her a Christmas card. She put it in her purse. Later at home she found a $100 bill inside. She knew she couldn’t keep it for simply doing the right thing. She’s so determined to give it back that I have no doubt she will carry it with her however long it takes.

The store employee and former deputy sheriff is my daughter-in-law, Cynthia Hammon. Needless to say, we’re all over-the-top proud of her.

Please make sure your elderly friends and family members are aware and alert, because I’m told this crime happens a lot more often than we would think.

Dottie Flaugher

Wilmington