Scams Against the Elderly In the News: Highlighted by the case of Mary Ellen Bendtsen in 2005, scams that target the elderly happen all over the United States. Sometimes isolated and lonely, when they are unfamiliar with financial matters, the elderly can unfortunately be easy targets for scammers. The National Center for Prevention of Elder Abuse estimates that these types of scams cost older Americans more than $2.6 billion per year. In Bendtsen's case, two antique dealers are accused of befriending her and convincing her to change her will on her deathbed.
The Will Scam Scenario: A young woman sits with an older man in a diner. She's being very solicitous, helping butter his toast, but onlookers gradually realize she's trying to get him to sign over his house to her. When he goes to the bathroom, she reports her progress to an accomplice on her cell phone, making clear she is taking advantage of the senior citizen. Will people intervene?
What They Said:
"So you're telling me that my kids hate me?"
"And I know that's such a hard thing to hear and have to understand and deal with, but yeah, it's the reality."
-- our con artist to her victim.
"This is almost too easy. It's like taking candy from a baby. No, no one even cares."
-- our con artist speaking on the phone with an accomplice.
"I'm not a lawyer; I'm not anything, sir. Your best bet is to call a lawyer, go to a police officer, go to somebody. But it sounds like a scam to me, and I don't get involved in these things."
-- customer who was asked to sign as a witness.