Avoiding senior scam | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Avoiding senior scam

Pressure sales tactics are bad enough in a legitimate setting, but much worse when it’s a scam artist who targets the elderly.

A Placerville senior was pressured this month by a fraudulent salesman claiming to be part of a government sale. According to the El Dorado County Department of Community Services, the senior was pressured to provide the salesman with financial records. The man obtained the senior’s bank statements and grant deed, and then left to make copies. The man stayed at the senior’s home for four hours, ignoring a request that he leave.

Under pressure, the senior agreed to sign a living trust for about $1,700. Afterward, the senior called the El Dorado County Area Agency on Aging, and the senior’s bank was contacted to reverse the agreement and stop payment.

Officials said although there have not been any reports of this type of scam in South Lake Tahoe, residents should still beware.

“Seniors need to be aware there are unscrupulous individuals out there that target them as victims,” said Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe. “These are professionals and they can be extremely convincing.”

Uthe stressed that no one taken in by a fraudulent scam should be too embarrassed to seek help.

“Seniors sometimes feel foolish, and they really shouldn’t. This can happen to anyone,” he said. “Embarrassment shouldn’t stop them from calling and reporting it, and asking for help.”

Seniors enjoying lunch at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center said they had received questionable phone solicitations in the past, but never been approached in person.

“I had a guy call me wanting to sell me credit card protection,” said John Perry. “He asked for my credit card number. I said, ‘if I gave you my credit card number I would need protection,’ and then hung up.”

“You just don’t know who is legitimate and who isn’t,” said Ruth Briem.

“You just can’t keep yourself out of it,” said Roy Briem, Ruth’s husband. “If you go on the Internet they have your name right there.”

Doug Nowka, director of the Area Agency on Aging, said seniors should keep salespeople from entering their homes, and report suspicious or aggressive behavior to law enforcement officials. He said the agency does not release personal information or endorse businesses selling investments, annuities or legal services of any kind.

Nowka said seniors can contact the Department of Community Services at (530) 621-6150 or (800) 295-7779 for free senior legal services or advice.

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