I ended up petitioning for guardianship and won. This was a painful and long process but it was ultimately the only logical choice.
Part of the problem is the secretive nature of finances. My aunt and uncle did most of their theft by putting undue influence on my grandfather to get him to sign things and then claim he was the one making all of the decisions. This undue influence included threatening him that they would abandon him if he didn't do what they wanted. The court overwhelmingly showed his incapacity which made these lies obvious.
To make matters worse, there were over a dozen amendments to my grandfathers estate documents within a 2 year period. You'd think there would be a lawyer that says no to these things, but it turned out my grandfahter's lawyer was later found complicit. He was disbarred because he got caught stealing money from several of his elderly clients.
And my grandfather's financial advisor knew about all the abuse as well, but did not do anything about it. He claimed he was alerting the POA (my uncle) about it all along, but he wasn't able to do anything else.
When I reported it to the police they did open up an investigation, but they put it on the backburner. Why? Because elder abuse is not well understood by law enforcement. When the culprits are the victims family members, it is just not taken as seriously.
The bottom line is that elder abuse is a complex problem. It isn't one that can be solved with technology alone. It will take a combination of technology, the law, and awareness. Even then, it will be difficult to solve.
I've had my credit card stolen twice times, including one that was clearly part of the target hack , though wasn't obvious at the time - at the time, it was simply a fraudulent charge that my bank caught despite being made at my local target (which itself gives me pause, because how did they know it wasn't me?) That happened in the right time range. Most people I know have had it happen to them. Quite frankly, I've known several unclassy people who have engaged in such behavior - they pretty much bragged about it, and so I stopped hanging with groups that would allow them to join (and then laughed when reading Facebook posts from former friends that they were dealing with said fraud)
So be very wary of people who show a hesitance to empathize with victims.
On another note, our government and society as a whole just doesn't give a damn about victim-assisted fraud. There are cases where billions of dollars have been stollen from pensioners and it is obvious who is responsible (often an open secret) but nothing is ever done. If you want to make money being a terrible person just commit victim-assisted fraud and spread each crime across multiple jurisdictions.
Second is a "don't feed the trolls" thing. By falling for it they actively make the problem worse even for people who are savvy. If nobody fell for spam and scams they would go out of business.
Finally the classic victim blaming for mental security, just world and such. I won't be scammed because I'm not a moron. I won't suffer police brutality because I'm not a criminal.
He fired a ranch hand for stealing a neighbor's cattle. Someone asked him "Why would you do that?" he responded with:
"Anyone who steals from my neighbor has no problem stealing from me".
Sit down and have the talk with them. Even if you think they're cynical enough or that they (currently) have the mental wherewithal to not fall for this crap, sit them down and give them the briefing.
The FCC and phone carriers have proven for decades that they don't give a single shit. They're not willing to solve it. This needs to be solved by elder education, and as [most of us here are] younger people, I think we have a moral duty to make sure that education happens.
Going after the scammers would also be helpful, as I haven't seen much enforcement.
Diminishing mental capacity is a very real issue. You might feel this is extremely unlikely, but you only need to fail once.
Consider one of the examples in TFA. Philip Marshall sought guardianship of his grandmother, Brooke Astor. To protect her from his father, Anthony Marshall. Sure, Anthony Marshall eventually went to jail. But I can easily imagine a version where Philip Marshall was the villain.
It’s like keeping 20k in a checking account. It’s a good idea to have cash on hand and safer than keeping such money at home, but plenty of people had that money stolen via electronic transfer. Choosing which risks to take and how much effort you’re willing to spend avoiding those risks is just part of life.
PS: My Mothers financial adviser put it like this: “Do you trust your kids? If you do then you can simply things, but if you don’t their are other steps you can take.” Personally, I don’t nessisarily trust my future self to make great choices all the time, but if you do then don’t worry about this stuff.
I get that. It's a tough problem. What I wonder is whether my future self might make choices that seem bad now, and would seem bad to a guardian, but might make sense for me then. Or at least, would be what I wanted to do, then.
I am betting that I won't become more trusting as I get older. Or at least, that's not been the pattern, so far.
I mean they cracked down on the mafia, RICO and all that. You really think they can't nab a few phone scammers?
But I agree nonetheless that this kind of activity is certainly at the very bottom of their preoccupation.
It even surprises me because elderly are good voters so it should be politically beneficial to solve their problem, especially when it's something as simple and non-partisan as this. It seems so easy to just say "We protect our elderly and jail the awful criminals to abuse them" and just do it and win some nice popular vote for a super small cost, seems weird that it does not happen.
Do you have a source on this?
Edit: How does "hot" become "host"? I have no clue.
At this point I'm ready to throw the towel in on the POTS network and move it all onto the data network. The ILECs have proven unwilling to address the problem and now their network has turned to crap. On my cell phone I can deal with it by whitelisting, but my desk phone is not so advanced.
I've got an elderly relative who fell into something that I swear followed a lead generation funnel. Accepted some semi-legitimate domestic computer services help (optimize your PC and scan for spyware by some company from Utah), only to have the full hammer come down a few weeks later with a follow up from an Indian call center that commandeered her PC, made fake deposits to her bank account, turned on her camera and showed he could see everything, and insisted she purchase $500 in iTunes cards to pay for the malware removal. After wising up, the same center called her multiple times daily for more than a year from various spoofed numbers.
If they're getting calls every 30 minutes, it's likely they've become a qualified lead in some way, by something they've done.
But she was smart enough to hang up, shutdown the box, and wait for me to wake up. So I booted with a Debian LiveCD, grabbed all her data, and replaced the SSD. The old one is now a RAID member in one of my play boxes.
Now if you had suggested that vigilantes actually get off their asses and find these people and do horrible things to them, you might have something. Of course, as cathartic as it sounds, vigilantism is generally frowned upon for good reason.
Imagine if good governance meant anything in today's political climate.
My parents are immigrants and would about once a year get a phone call from some person I had never heard of from back home, usually when a friend of the family died back in the motherland.
Your proposal would prevent such calls from succeeding.
“Hey, do you Carol’s number? I want to let her know about Aunt Bertha’s funeral.”
“No, but my sister goes to yoga with her daughter. Let me put you in touch.”
To suggest they setup a whitelists where only their active set of connections may reach them demonstrates a profound lack of understanding and empathy for the elderly.
Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind elderly immigrants are usually even more stuck in the past, having grown up in nations lagging in most ways behind the USA. When I visit where my parents came from, it's like visiting a museum.
How they get the numbers is obvious, I don't think you've made any attempt to think about this. They tap into the friends network, people search through their phone books and give out numbers. It's how things used to be.
Maybe you let everything go to voicemail. Or if they're too far gone for that, you route it to your voicemail. And just pass along what's legitimate.
The list of these scenarios goes on. They are greatly outnumbered by the scam calls, but aren't few enough not to be an issue - especially the ones with doctor's and so on.
We've lost control of our telephone network.
"To date, the Commission has brought 134 enforcement actions against companies and telemarketers for Do Not Call, abandoned call, robocall and Registry violations. To date, 121 of these FTC enforcement actions have been resolved, and in those cases the agency has recovered over $50 million in civil penalties and $71 million in redress or disgorgement."
It appears they dug up minor details on various elderly and cold-call bunches of them. If a call receiver shows curiosity, they hang up, collect more personal details, and call back days later with a more complete scenario. Thus, I don't think they actually practiced voice impressions, but use shere mass fishing/phishing to see who bites, and then focus on the biters. They leverage coincidence via mass trials.
It is indeed a crazy story. The scammers told him if he went to police or tried to contact the direct family of the nephew, it would blow the entire cover of the fix-by-bribery get-out-of-jail method. He was instructed to go to Target to buy gift cards. Later, Target was uncooperative in providing details, such as security camera coverage of those cashing in the gift cards on the other "side". The cards are numbered such that I'm sure they have logs and/or accounting records of when and where they were cashed in. They could have used that to narrow down which security camera footage to review. Maybe investigating Target gift-card scams is an avenue for you. Target confessed is had happened to others.
I don't want to speak for my friend, but I would assume a phone call would be fine. Do you have an email in which he could contact you?
Useful trick: don't answer by saying "Hello". Predictive dialers listen for that to distinguish humans from answering machines and voicemail. If they don't hear "Hello", they hang up quickly.
I'm curious what happens after 11 seconds?
IRS agents will sometimes go to people's houses to carry out collection actions, but it's all done in person; they don't make outbound phone calls.
I would suggest reporting all details of what happened to you to the police.
This isn't a solution but a suggestion to help. Tracking down scammers is much harder.
Yeah, somewhere in $foreign_country...
I'm not saying phone fraud is non-existing in my home country of Belgium, but I've never received a single scam call, nor do I know of anyone who did, so the size of the issue in the US is surprising to me.
I do remember getting a lot more spam calls while living in Spain for a while, so it seems very linked to countries' law enforcement and carrier cooperation.
The Jolly Roger Telephone Company
There was a neat reply all episode about someone abusing this connection requirement to make money just by sending out calls to 1-800 numbers, keeping people on the line and getting a cut from the originating exchange.
Short of handing a scammer a bag of cash, there's no way to transfer/receive money anonymously.
While a scammer can do damage, any significant amount would trigger an investigation and be blocked.
It sounds like the US is still the wild west when it comes to this sort of financial shenanigan.