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Council says elderly falling victim to phone scams

An advocacy group warns that someone is trying to scam the elderly out of their money.

The Area Council on Aging said someone is calling Valley elderly and making them believe that if they send money, they’ll get more cash in return in the future.

Scott Hawthornthwait, of the Phoenix division, said that in some cases, the elderly even believe they’re going to win some sort of lottery prize.

He did not say what prize they are fictitiously being offered.

“It often starts with a phone call from a very friendly person, to gain the victim’s confidence,” said Hawthornthwait.

He added that even after taking steps to prevent being duped, the elderly are still falling for scam artists.

“We’ve even had clients where we have changed their phone number, and they will give the new number to the scammer, because they are so convinced that they are going to win a prize,” Hawthornthwait said.

In most cases, the victims are too ashamed to report the crime. One even told the council “I’m 80 years old. I should have known better.”

Hawthornthwait said that in some cases, scammers who are located here in the United States are actually faking victims into believing that they are calling from overseas.

“They call in the middle of the night and say that they are calling from another country to excuse the time difference,” he said. “They’re very convincing. They don’t often ask for money upfront but later, [they] will gain the confidence of the person to send X amount of money…[and] that they, in turn, will receive more money in the future.”

Hawthornthwait said that if you have elderly relatives living alone, it would be good to talk with them and make sure they know not to take the bait.

If they do get a scam phone call, it is also important they call either the police or the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to report the crime.