Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Scam Artists' Focus: Senior Citizens Make Best Targets

--Scheme, Ream, and Cream--War Cry of the Scam Artists as they single out Seniors for their Con Games

When you talk to God, you're said to be praying. But, when God talks to you, you're said to be a psycho.

Sadly, it is the latter mental state many elderly people are driven to by scam artists.

Good judgment comes from experience, and al lot of that comes from bad judgment. Along with declining mental acuity, which accompanies this ageless truism, comes a more susceptible stance, on the part of senior citizens, to getting suckered by scam artists. When elders get to the point of thinking Christmas tree lights look better on a pumpkin, they are close to going over the edge. And, tragically, this is the low level of reasoning-grip many have been driven to by the scam artists.

Often, also accompanied by declining comprehension, seniors can no longer outlast the Energizer Bunny either. Advanced age signifies that "getting a little action" only means their Phillip's Milk of Magnesia is working.

Why does this combination induce such gullibility?

Here are some of the reasons:

1) Older citizens are more likely to own their own home, have good credit, and posses a nest egg, making them inviting targets. It's said that anybody can live to be 100, if they give up all the things that make them want to be 100. It's surprising how many older folks do just this, stretching their life expectancy. The scam artist is aware, and aims his guns accordingly. He knows they are only young once, but can be immature forever in managing their often times formidable assets.

2) These victims are less likely to report a fraud, because they don't know where to turn, are ashamed for having been scammed, or are concerned that family members may come to the "failing mental capacity" conclusion. It's no solace to think: If you are poor when you're old, at least you won't have to worry about your children having you declared legally insane in order to get control over your estate. And, still another lesson of life that might be learned could be: Be kind to your friends; you may need them to empty your bed pan some day.

3) The scam artist knows that, even when the elderly victim reports a scam, he / she often cannot provide all necessary details to be used as evidence--due to Alzheimer's onset, senility, other forms of dementia, or the just plain forgetfulness of age. (They know this particular group of victims is getting old when they consider Happy Hour to be time for a nap.) How to marshal flashbacks without selectively sanitized nostalgia, or other mental interference, is a real problem for the elderly. Plus, a mind as overcrowded as an auctioneer's warehouse is a difficult reservoir from which to flush facts.

4) Individuals who grew up as part of the so-called "Greatest Generation"--1930s to 1950s--are thought to be more trusting, more polite, more willing to patiently listen to sales pitches. These people, therefore, make up a prime market for scam artists of all types. To the scam artists' thinking, age does not always bring wisdom; sometimes age comes alone. Life is hard, then you nap.

More simply, in all, growing old is mandatory; growing wise is not necessarily a tag-along component. So, the wrap-up is that, through simple chronology, the elderly make up a prime market for scam artists. So many of these cons are premised on easy money, greater security, and extended life spans (medical and health related scams proliferate). All those things that make seniors a natural target.

It all comes down to this: simple restraint must be exercised. in dealing with scam artists, the elderly should remember a fundamental piece of logic: Never try to milk a bull.

This clear identification, and avoidance, of the scam artist species would save them much in terms of their painstakingly-constructed estate, as well as retaining a grip on their self-respect.

Full recognition of an imperative, drastic change in their overall life style is a "must"--once their wild oats have turned to prunes and All-Bran.


JD from Hoeno said...

Great post Jack. I haven't been back here in a few weeks but I see your writing ability hasn't been impaired by that few weeks of aging. My grandmother has a wonderful strategy at the age of 93when people try to target her over the phone. She says ''Sorry, honey. I'm old.'' and just hangs up on them. Polite but to-the-point.

Robin Easton said...

Oh my god, Jack! This is not only hysterically funny (can't believe the number of killer lines in here) but it is also alarmingly true. The startlingly clear insight you have into the reasons elders make good targets is mind blowing. I never even thought about most of these reasons, only the dementia or aging-mind thing, but not the rest.

Your writing continually amazes me. You must have an IQ of about 200. The way your mind works is simply incomprehensible to me. Your wit is like a Mexican jumping bean that can hardly contain itself. I'd give anything to have that kind of wit, because I feel it inside but often don't know how to give voice to it. I hope it is a voice that will eventually find it's way to the surface. I'd give anything to write like you do.

Hugs to you my friend,

Terry said...

Wow, Jack...this is the best.

Linda said...

I am proud of my grandfather. He gets a lot of phone solicitations like these. Even though he is suffering from some kind of dementia, although its not Alzheimers, he knows to put these people off. He has a lot of friends his age in the eighties that fall for these and lose money, but he doesn't.

This is a great article pointing out the reasons for people like my granddad being victimes. I printed it out and am sending it to my friends who have similar problems with their older family people.

Earl T. Clydson said...

It's buried in all the humor, but this is powerful stuff. I am going to have to get your book now.

Sheri T said...

My grandfather actually got taken for a sum of money a year ago. He is so proud and won't say anything about it, but this post does ring a bell. He was always too pround and this has likely hurt him to the point where he doesn't want to burden his family with it. I wish I could find out all about it, but all I can do is keep trying.

Dee said...

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Reminds me of an Oscar Wilde saying:

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."

But of course "never try to milk a bull"

Dee said...

That is The best.

Jack Payne said...

Hey, JD, that's great. I'm old, and hang up. That's a good line. Or, how about, I'm enlightened, and you're a con artist, and hang up. Same effect.

Robin, you are too kind. My ambition is modest--only to become the greatest writer on the planet earth since the birth of Christ. With you at my side, how can I miss?

Terry, ditto.

Linda, you should be proud of your granddad. "Shove off Buster," this is the only way to fly with these people.

Jack Payne said...

Hey, Earl, you're gonna have to get my book now? That's music to my ears. If you want to know what makes a con man tick, down to the last cell in his body, this is the way to learn. Every action, every emotion, every travail faced in the book is reflective of the con man's devious mind. I busted myself to pour out everything I know about the workings of the can artist in this book. All I can say is you'll learn a bunch about what's going on all around you, every day, in my Six Hours Past Thursday.

Jack Payne said...

Sheri, my heart bleeds for people like your grandfather. My dear, departed mother--bless her soul--got taken for $190,000 over a 4 year period prior to her death in 1997. I never knew anything about it until it was too late.
I know exactly how you feel.

And, you, Dee, you are my saving grace. What would I ever do without you? I would most likely have to leap from a cliff, my last cry being, Dee doesn't love me any more.

And, I do stick by my guns in proclaiming that it is bad policy to try to milk a bull.

Gene Kranik said...

I've been a loyal reader of your blog for something like nine months now, Jack, and have enjoyed your well-written posts. They have included a lot of things I would never have thought of about the workings of the con people. I have to agree with Terry and a few other people here, this is about the best you've done yet.
Now, like Earl, I am going to have to get a copy of your book.

pamela said...

This post was a serious topic but you are so funny!!!
My dad is 80yrs. old and used to be an insurance salesman... He will never be scammed. His mind is sharp and he looks more like he is 60. He can touch his toes, cares for his 31/2 acre property himself, and can bound up steps two at a time.
Why? He is not on any meds!!! He takes vitamins and supplements instead...I left you a funny story on your discussion :) I thought this post was great info and great fun.

Michael Vlaicu said...

Mr.Jack Payne, I just finished reading your accomplishments on your "About Me" section and I was highly amazed. I hope to one day reach your plateau... you are almost like a role model for me. To have someone like you visit my blog, read it and enjoy it means alot.

Your style of writing is unique and engaging, a talent that isn't seen all too often these days amongst all of the miscellaneous ramblings you find on the net.

Michael Vlaicu said...

"When you talk to God, you're said to be praying. But, when God talks to you, you're said to be a psycho."


Swubird said...

Con Man:

A great article.

I've bailed out my share of grand parents - everything from driving the wrong way on the wrong freeway, to selling their home (all paid off) to a couple of real estate brokers who tried to pressure them into accepting an offer over $200,000 less than its fair market value. Even in the rest home, aspirin at several dollars a piece is another issue! Like you intimated - scam artists are lined up like lions waiting for the prey.

Now I'm getting up there in years and I wonder who is looking out for me. The kids? I doubt it. So, thanks for all the information in your article. I will try to be careful.

Happy trails.

Terry said...

Your best line yet is the opening paragraph, Jack. When you talk to God = prayer. When God talks to you = psycho...I loved it.

Dolcett said...

I think your point number 3 hits the nail right on the head. The con artists know the elderly are bad at compiling evidence to be used against them. My grandmother was so gullible. When she died she had a stack of Readers Digest books standing on the floor six feet high. Nobody could talk her out of this and she had no receipts or any other evidence that she had ever bought them.

McAlee said...

I agree with Dolcett. It's lack of ability to collect evidence that is the biggest lure to con men.

Ione Hesber said...

You're right about this greatest generation. My grandparents are from this group...in fact, my granddad fought in World War II in the South Pacific as a Marine. They both have their values and have a firm belief in America and the goodness of people. It's frustrating at times trying to get them to see the light. I am so afraid they are going to give in to a con man someday...they are so naive about how things are in our present day world.


As I have mentioned before-I love your style of writing but the message is clear and this makes me feel very sad that there are these awful predators out there. What goes around comes around-at least that is what I have to believe.

Bern said...

I'll go along with Ione. My dad is from the old school and he believes devoutly in the Great American Way. He's always proclaiming the basic honesty of people. I've seen him get set up for big money losses two times. So far he's lucky, and has been able to avoid disaster, but I always worry about him.

Wendy said...

Never try to milk a bull.

You sure go the right.

Tis a shame that the older generation has to put up with that.

Wish there was a way to inform each and every one of them the hazards fo scams

Before I forget thanks for stopping my blog Jack. Love your comments

Kadamian said...

Why does our government mollycoddle these people? I say round them up and give them a fair traial, then line them up and shoot them.

Jack Payne said...

Glad to hear you are going to read my Six Hours Past Thursday, Gene. It will give you insights to the con man mind like you've never seen in print before--anywhere.

Jack Payne said...

Great story about your Dad, Pam. What blew me away was that "takes 2 steps at a time." Wow. I'd kill for that kind of agility. With my arthritic knees I am hobbled to the point of heavy thinking about how to negotiate a roadside curb.

Thanks for your compliments, Michael. Like a pig is slop, I am wallowing in these.

Nice to hear that, as you grow older, you are pondering all the right things, Swu. It's tough, but when you are aware of this well ahead of time, you are ahead of the game.

Common problem, Dolcett. So, it runs in your family too?

Same thing, I guess, for Ione and Bern. This "trusting nature" is a big component in how the elderly--in all too many cases--set themselves up for a fleecing.

"What goes around comes around." That's an old saw I'd like to believe in too, Heidi.

Inform. That's what I'm trying to do, Wendy. You'e lucky. With that youthful, muscular, chisled Greek God of a husband to protect you, you have nothing to worry about concerning pending old age.

Jack Payne said...

I like your idea of fair play, Kadamian.
But I think firing squads are out. No hanging either. How about the good old electric chair, gas, or lethal injections?

Anonymous said...

haha thnks about my world satire blog. I just HAD to say something about McCain just discrediting Obama and not talking about the issues as much as before

Mrs. Laughing Pants said...

I like your thoughts on how to avoid scam artist. You tell it as it is. Thanks for sharing.

dani c said...

Ha haha, Great post Jack....Humorous yet informative, I very much enjoyed it and your writing, as always...

Terry said...

Thought I would check in with my favorite line from this post...which I'm sure you could not live without. It's never try to milk a bull...I will have to try to remember that.

AxedbyDax said...

great post.I really enjoyed reading your articles.I will definitely come back for some new ones.Keep it up.

Frame Set said...

beautiful blog, post very interesting, greetings from italy! Hi Dino!

harleyblues said...

how do a top a comment to a brillant post? I cannot lol that is brillant experience is the best teacher I agree!

Warren M said...

I think the figure I heard was $60 billion. That's the total assets of senior citizens in the U.S. That's a juicy market for con men.

amit said...

good post, telling other about this idea is too good

Kathleen said...

I have an ex-friend who looks for elders who live alone. He offers to mow the lawn, or do some chores. He really does no major harm - except to "borrow" things, ask for tools, says he "needs" things... It's not money in this case. It's "getting stuff" on the pretense of caring, and it's all for his own slovenly benefit, because he doesn't work. He sells stuff that he enmasses from senior citizens

It's a spin-off of what you've written, but a scam nevertheless.

My mom had a sign amidst her legal papers - "Milk of Amnesia" - for people who can't remember shit". (Thought you would just like that).

Great article.

Jack Payne said...

Your Mom's sign did tickle me, Kathleen.

The rest of you guys, thanks.

The IFRS Exorcist © said...

My favorite line was never try to milk a bull. Is it related in some way to bullshit I don't know. Love your tongue in cheek writing style - great I will have to read your book on finders fees. What do I know about anything I am an accountant.(CPA) I am fascinated by these get rich schemes. The organisers get rich and the mugs (an English term - Muggles in Harry Potter) get a lot poorer. There are red flags when a "product" cost thousands and over 90% goes in "commissions". Why are jails not even more crowded I dunno!

"The IFRS Exorcist" Darla S.

Raimo 'RayRay' Pregel said...

Wow, firstly, not many people can write anything as long and.. as interesting as this, I was totally drawn to it, which is rare :) thanks

Secondly - funny AND true as hell. It´s a funny world we live in and.. younger people always kinda at some level take advantage of older people and hence why they tend to "proclaim insane" (for money).

It´s also said that.. young people can´t EVER be considered smart - I mean I know it may be the ego part talking and I may be hellishly subjective, but I know a lot of things by now since.. I started learning&experimenting with everything at a really really young age and.. people are way too stubborn and claiming "oh my god, you can´t know anything yet! you´re only 21!"
GOD! I dislike hypnotized & preconceived people.

I´m really going to stick around your blog from now on, since I don´t stumble upon people who are smart very often and.. it´s just like a cool breeze on a warm summer day :)

best of luck with everything!
take care, peace

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