5 On Your Side

Be rude, hang up, research to avoid being drawn into scams

Posted July 21, 2020 3:39 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2020 7:03 p.m. EDT

— It started in March. The caller told the 78-year-old who answered, she'd won a car, TV and money.

"It was your typical scam," the victim's daughter wrote to WRAL's Monica Laliberte. "All she needed to do was purchase prepaid debit cards" worth $500 each, then call back and share the numbers on the back, which give access to the money.

The scammer kept calling.

Prepaid cards

"It went on for about eight weeks," the victim's daughter told 5 On Your Side.

Embarrassed and worried about what happened, the family did not want to share their names, but they did share an image of all the cards purchased in that time.

"She kept all the receipts and cards, even though he told her to throw them away," her daughter wrote.

The victim's credit card statement reveals purchase after purchase, multiple purchase made the same day, all during the pandemic. It adds up to $10,500 -- an incredible amount of money gone.

"That type of scam is really flourishing," said Brandy Bauer with the National Council on Aging.

Her message for seniors: "Don’t be afraid to be rude and hang up."

Research whatever story that caller, email or text claims is happening.

Bauer recommends family members talk with seniors about the many different scams, so they know what to look for.

And perhaps most important, she says, keep in touch.

"Call them, you know, talk to them online," said Bauer. "People are often victims of scams when they're lonely and they have no one else to talk to."

For the viewer, the scam unraveled when her husband answered the phone, but not until almost $11,000 was gone.

The victim's daughter says the scammer is still calling.

One store clerk did try to warn it could be a scam, another actually refused to sell the gift cards.

Remember this simple warning: Any payment demand that involves prepaid cards is a scam.

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