SSFPD Media Release: Financial Elder Abuse Fraud / Scams

South San Francisco, CA       May 21, 2014     Submitted by SSFPD SSFPD logo

The South San Francisco Police Department continues to see a rise in fraudulent telephone scams targeting its elderly citizens.


Today, May 20, 2014, a resident of South San Francisco was contacted via telephone and informed there was a warrant for her arrest. The suspect told the victim he was a paralegal from the Attorney General’s office. The suspect told her she needed to pay a fee via a Vanilla refillable card in order to prevent her from going to jail. The only description of the suspect was he had a “Russian” accent.


Financial fraud is the fastest growing form of elder abuse. Elder financial fraud victimizes hundreds of thousands of elderly persons each year.  Elder financial abuse is tough to combat, in part because it often goes unreported. Many elderly victims are often too confused, fearful, or embarrassed by the crime to report it. Older United States residents hold the largest percentage of this nation’s wealth, making them prime targets for abuse by unethical financial professionals, scammers, caregivers and even family members.


Elder financial abuse scams are a multi-billion dollar industry.


You can protect yourself or your loved ones from financial elder abuse by becoming familiar with the most common scams and learning what to do if you suspect foul play:


  1. Never use a money transfer service or pre-paid debit card to send money to someone you have not met in person.
    1. Never send money for an emergency situation without verifying it’s a real emergency; ignore the caller’s plea not to tell others; confirm through other friends and family.
      1. Never send funds received by check until it officially clears in your account, which can take several days, or more.
      2. If it’s  too good to be true, it probably is.


Some of the prevalent type of scams seen by law enforcement are:


  • “You’re a Sweepstakes or Lottery Winner!”  Elder gets a phone call or letter saying they have just won a big “prize”, but must first send money for “taxes” or fees before getting their prize.


  • Fortune-Teller or Psychic Healer:  Eider’s money or jewelry is “cursed” and must be given to a fortuneteller to remove the “curse”.



  • ”I’ll fix your roof or driveway – Cheap!” Elder pays cash to a door-to-door solicitor, who just happens to have some left-over materials from a previous job, then gets shoddy work – or no work at all.


  • “Let’s share this found cash!”  Stranger approaches elder with offer to share “found” cash.  Elder is told to get “good faith money” of their own, which is then stolen by deception.


  • Victim receives a telephone call requesting verification of either credit card number or social security nunber.  This information is then used by for fraudulent purposes.


  • “You hit my car in the parking lot!”  Crooks smear cider’s parked car with tar while elder is shopping.  When elder returns and drives off, crooks follow, and then accuse elder of Hit & Run, pointing to tar as evidence of “damage”.  Crooks demand cash to keep from calling Police.
  • “Latin-Lotto” Scam” “11legal alien” offers the elder a share of their “winning” lottery ticket – if the elder is willing to put up their own cash to help redeem it.


  • Gold Bar or Diamond Scam” “Foreigner” offers to sell elder a fake gold bar or diamond at a “big discount”, to raise cash for a “family emergency” back home.



  • Utility Inspector Scam: Phony “Utility Inspector” comes to eider’s home, distracts elder while the house is burglarized.


  • Bank Examiner Scam: Elder gets phone call asking the elder to give a cash deposit to a “bank detective” trying to catch a crooked teller at the elder’s bank.


  •  The Grandparent Scam: Elder will receive call from someone purporting to be a grandson/granddaughter. Sometimes the scam.mer will know the name of the grandchild.  Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usual ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, bail money because they are in jail). The scammer will ask the elder to be paid via Western Union, MoneyGram or pre-paid debit card such as a Green Dot card, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”


  • IRS Agent Scam: The caller will fraudulently identity themselves as an agent with the Internal Revenue Service. The caller will then advise the victim they owe a large amount of money in back taxes. The caller will request the victim send the overdue tax payments to them via Western Union, MoneyGram or pre-paid debit card such as a Green Dot card.


The California Department of Justice, in cooperation with AARP, has published the booklet, “Citizen’s Guide to Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse,” which provides helpful hints on how to detect the most common warning signs of physical, emotional and financial elder abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities. (CLICK HERE FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD OF THIS 39 PAGE BOOKLET)


If you believe you have been a victim of this type of fraud or believed a loved one has been the victim of this type of fraud please contact the South San Francisco Police Department non-emergency line at (650) 877-8900 or the Anonymous TIP Line at (650) 952-2244.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments