FLEECING SENIORS, BUT NOT THIS ONE: Mabz Potter-Jones is happy she was one of the lucky ones who didn’t fall for a scam
IF YOU’RE elderly or retired, one of the biggest threats to your wallet could be that smooth voice on the phone working to convince you some money is on the way.
92-year-old Nambucca resident Mabel ‘Mabz’ Potter-Jones admits she nearly fell victim to a dulcet toned scammer who was impersonating a government official, informing her a retiree’s rebate could be hers to claim.
“He said I was entitled to something like $7280 for paying too much toward my pension and could have the money back within a week,” Mabz told the Guardian. “He went on about how lucky we (pensioners) would be to have the money in our clutches.
“Then asked if I’d like it as a cheque or put into the bank – and I said ‘cheque’.”
Mabz said the man changed tack a little and emphasised his trustworthiness, and noted that “everyone is doing it” – before asking again if she would prefer for the money to go directly into her bank account.
After another ‘no’, she was told to go to the Post Office to get a form and to pay $169 into an account to get the ‘process underway’.
“He said not to discuss it with anyone and to go do it straight away,” Mabz said. “I thought that was a bit strange.
“These people are good at what they do – they suck you in to the extent where you believe it … very convincing with their words.”
Luckily, Mabz had the commonsense to call the police – who informed her it was a hoax … but many aren’t so lucky. She said a friend was fleeced and did give out bank details, but by the time they realised it was likely a con, the money was gone.
“It happened to them within minutes,” she said. “A similar thing happened to my nephew – he was told some money was coming from a relative who died overseas. He believed it because at the time, a relative of his had died overseas.
“It can happen to anyone, but they are targeting the elderly … we’re not as switched on as we used to be and people tend to believe that money is coming.
“You don’t get money for nothing – realise you work for money and it doesn’t come through emails, cheques, phone calls … I’m 92 and never had a handout or free money like that.
“Why would it start now?”
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said scammers were a daily threat to consumers and people should hang up on such calls and report them to authorities.
Experts say a victim’s embarrassment or confusion, or the fact that the perpetrator is sometimes a close relative or friend, means many cases never get reported.
“Too often the trusting and the elderly get conned out of their hard earned money and in some cases life savings by scammers,” Mr Stowe said.
“Often the scammers are based overseas and use sophisticated methods to lure people into their web of deceit.”
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