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Caregiving at its Finest

Scumbags, Slimeballs & Sickos

When I’m in my “heads down” mode of working nothing irritates me more than unwelcomed interruptions.

Phone: Ringgggg or rather Beep Beep, Beep Beep

Me: Look at the caller ID, see that it’s my mother, I reject the call.

Phone: Buzzzz (the sound designated for voice mails)

Me: Sigh of relief, I think to myself “oh good she left me a voicemail.”

(Approximately 10 seconds later)

Phone: Beep Beep, Beep Beep

Me: Oh no, now what? Look at the caller ID. Surprise, it’s my mother again, and again I reject the call.

Image of a yellow triangle with exclamation in it denoting a warning and scam alert on top.

Now before anyone gets all steamed at the fact that I rejected these calls, the relationship between my mother and I is complicated. Plus I did listen to the voice mails and wasn’t disappointed when greeted with a less than nice tone of voice and a cryptic message telling me that she had some good news she needed to share.

I called her back – the good news? She was the lucky recipient of $400,000 and the best part is it would be delivered on Friday. Here’s the punchline all she had to do was send $1,000 and….

I really don’t need to go any further because if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one of these calls and you did what the caller instructed you to do then you already know it’s a scam. And this part I do feel badly about because all that was required was a little patience on my part but I had to interrupt my mother to tell her it was a scam. To my credit if I’m to deserve any credit, I did take down all the information she received from the caller and I then proceeded to do what I do and that is my own investigative work. It set me back about one hour but it was worth the effort.

Comeuppance is its Own Reward

Before I could call my mother back to let her know the caller’s number was a private cell phone that originates in New York, she called me to tell me she took matters into her own hands. Of course the “Judge” yup there was even a Judge, that she had to contact to claim her prize money, hung up on her once she started interrogating him.

After this second discussion with my mother when I had time to process everything that occurred I was ticked off. Even though we may not have the best of relationships I resent it when someone preys upon anyone who they think they can take advantage of.

My mother was so excited to think she had a once in a lifetime windfall only to find out she was duped and here I am infuriated – not with her but with the individual(s) who are responsible. I was able to complete the rest of my tasks but in the back of my mind I was playing out a payback plot.

Image of a pile of money

It wouldn’t be the first time that I got angry and advocated on behalf of my mother. You see, a number of years ago she was afflicted with a rare disorder called spasmodic torticollis which when properly diagnosed was really dystonia.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures. In my mother’s case she has severe scoliosis secondary to the dystonia which has left her grossly disfigured with her entire body pulling to one side.

When she was denied Supplemental Security Income for the third time I went into my advocating role writing letters to legislators and all who would listen. One Senator in particular was very instrumental in righting the wrong done to my mother and six weeks after my letter writing campaign she received the help she needed.

Image of a phone with a red do not call symbol on top What really burns me is that these criminals prey on people who they think are weak, elderly or alone and I’m here to say they are sorely mistaken. My mother just celebrated her 77th birthday last week and while we have our difficulties it’s true, I will let no one take advantage of her or anyone else on my radar who is experiencing a similar situation – it’s just not happening.

Taking advantage of anyone is wrong and it’s up to us as friends, family members or just concerned individuals to step in and call attention to this issue. If you suspect that someone you know is the victim of a telephone or computer scam you can report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Additional steps you can take to protect yourself or someone you know from becoming scam victims are registering your phone number (up to three) on the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov. Also, I make it a practice not to answer calls from numbers I do not recognize. The logic being that if the call is legitimate they will leave a voicemail and I can return the call. To further protect yourself never give any unsolicited personal information over the phone.

Remember, if it sounds to good to be true it most definitely is!

“I don’t answer the phone. I get the feeling whenever I do that there will be someone on the other end.” ~Fred Couples

4 thoughts on “Caregiving at its Finest

  1. You are a very good daughter. These schemes are extremely elaborate and my mother gets a call once every other month (that she thinks is from one of her grandkids) with a sob story and needing money (she has 10 grandchildren) and these scammers just call out, “Gramma, I’m in such trouble, please help me” and she has a good heart so I always have to warn her that this is a crock! Gets me so angry. Thank you for writing a post about this.

    1. Thank you Steph, yeah I was reading an article on the lengths scammers will go to in an attempt to get people to bend to their will. The ones you mention where they pretend to be a family member in need are the worst. When I see these stories featured on the news I feel so awful for the innocent victims and I’d love to throttle the crooks. We definitely need to keep an eye out on our friends, family, and neighbors. It’s sad but it seems to be getting to the point where you can’t trust anyone.

  2. Excellent article. Kudos to you not only for being vigilant with your mother but for being so candid with the world about the many issues we all face while trying to both care for a parent and go about our busy lives. It’s sad that so many older adults seem to forget to watch out for scammers. It feels like they’re just so desperate for one more great thing to come out of the blue, and too often it’s a predator.

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    1. Thank you Donna. For the life of me I don’t understand how these people can sleep at night. The only comfort is knowing that in the end they will get theirs.

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