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Seniors, Stay Clear of These Scams

The following was submitted by Irene O'Brien of the North Andover Senior Center.

Here is a list of some scams seniors should be particularly aware of these days.

Botox Scams: In a society bombarded with images of the young and beautiful, it's not surprising that some older people feel the need to conceal their age in order to participate more fully in social circles in the workplace. After all, 60 is the new 40, right?

It is in this spirit that many older Americans seek out new treatments and medication to maintain a youthful appearance, putting them at risk of scammers.

It's fake Botox like the one distributed in Arizona that netted in 1.5 million in barely a year, or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing; there is money in the anti- aging business.

Botox scams are particularly unsettling, as renegade lab-created versions of the real thing may still be working with the root ingredients botulism neurotoxins, which is one of the most toxic substances known to science. A bad batch can have health consequences far beyond wrinkles or drooping neck muscles.

Telemarketing Scams: Perhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. While the image of the lonely senior citizen with nobody to talk to may have something to do with this, it is far more likely that older people are more familiar with shopping over the phone, and therefore might not be fully aware of the risk.

With no face to face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace. Also, once a successful deal has been made, the buyers name is then shared with similar scammers looking for easy targets, sometimes defrauding the same person repeatedly.

Charity Scams: Money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.  Investment Schemes:  Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement in managing their savings. A number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash for the later years from pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money to complete financial products that many economists don't even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people.

Homeowners/ Reverse Mortgage Scams: Scammers like to take advantage of the fact that many people above a certain age, own their own homes, a valuable asset that increases the potential dollar value of certain scams.  Unsecured reverse mortgages can lead property owners to lose their homes when the perpetrators offer money or a free house somewhere else in exchange for the title of the property.

Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams: Here a scammer informs their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often you will be sent a check that can be deposited in your bank account, knowing that while it shows up in your account immediately, it will take a few days before the fake check is rejected.

This scam capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Every day a new scam will come to our attention here at the Senior Center.  Before you give any information on the phone ask for a return number then call the or your local Police Department.  “If it sounds too good to be true” trust your gut, hang up the phone.

Rick Rodriguez January 11, 2012 at 12:07 AM
If you feel that you might be a victim to a reverse mortgage scam, I am a licensed reverse mortgage specialist and will be happy to provide you with the facts so you can determine if you have received accurate and honest information. Rick Rodriguez Reverse Mortgage Loan Officer #473353 rrodriguez@fnbmtg.com
Max Dale January 18, 2012 at 01:58 AM
That was great information, wonderful article but if any of you have any doubt on how reverse mortgage works you should ask the experts! The next step is to locate a local mortgage professional to help with the process. Basic and simple information on reverse mortgage is what you are looking for? They helped me a lot and cleared tons of doubts! Check their website! http://www.reversemortgagelendersdirect.com

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