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Internet Scammers


Obviously we all know about internet scammers. These scum-of-the-earth types who tend to prey on older folks who don’t know any better. It’s something I’ve heard people talk about for years, but I’ve never actually known anyone who has fallen victim to these scams. Until today, that is.

One of my dear childhood friends just posted on Facebook a series of screenshots to help warn others of internet scammers. My friend’s mom is a recent widow, her husband just passed not quite a year ago. She is still grieving, lonely, sad. In a word…vulnerable.

So when some creep online (with a fake profile/pretending to be a high-ranking individual in the military) reached out and initiated an online relationship, she jumped at the chance to fill the aching void in her heart. His story was that he needed money for military purposes. The U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, so he needed money to free one of his servicemen.

Over the course of the past few months, she’s been wiring this creep money over and over again. In total, she’s sent over $100,000. A huge chunk of her entire retirement savings.

My friend (her daughter) just found out about it and is, obviously, totally heartbroken over the whole thing. Since the internet scammer is in another country, it will be hard to find him and there’s almost no chance of recouping the lost funds. What an agonizingly painful lesson to learn the hard way.

I post this today to bring attention to this issue and warn readers to help look out for the loved ones in their life who might be vulnerable to this type of attack. My siblings and I had been worried about this with our dad. When he was first diagnosed with dementia, he still had access to his bank account. Even though I took over managing and paying his bills, he still had a debit card and would occasionally go to the bank to get cash just to have on-hand. It’s tough to take away a grown-ups’ freedom and we tried to go slowly with one thing at a time (first he moved to Texas, then to an independent living facility, then we took away the car, then we took his credit/debit cards, then he moved to a locked memory care facility). But while he had access to his money, we all knew he was a likely target. He once showed me one of those fake million-dollar-bills quite excited because he thought he’d stumbled across a *real* million dollars! Not a person who should have access to large sums of money.

It’s a sad story and a cautionary tale. I’ve also heard of much more sophisticated scams taking place via Facebook. Ones in which an individual will find personal information (e.g., children’ names, grandchildren’ names, etc.) and use the personal information to fabricate stories and lies in an effort to acquire money from the victim. So sad for those who fall victim! Be careful, y’all!

Do you know anyone who has fallen victim to one of these internet scammers? Has anyone tried to scam you before?


  • Reply Lisa |

    I do. She was recently separated from her husband. The man’s ship was sinking, and he needed money so his life boat could come! They were apparently “married” as well, as it was in international waters and he said they were. Thankfully, he did the, “I’ll send a check, you cash it, and send it back” scam. We all told her it was a scam, the bank wouldn’t cash it, and then she took it to the police station to verify.
    *I work at my local big box retailer, and so many people, men and women, send money to people we believe are scamming them. We do tell them about possible scams, have even denied doing the transaction, and even called Moneygram to have them look into the receiver. I

  • Reply Erin |

    I work for a bank. We have elder abuse cases all of the time, from people thinking they have won a Mercedes Benz but have to send money for ‘shipping’ to people sending money to start a new ‘business venture’, only to lose thousands upon thousands of their hard earned savings. My best advice to anyone with older family members that they help out (or even know that they have Alzheimers) is to let the bank know about their money habits (i.e. they don’t make wire transfers, don’t typically make large withdrawals, etc), so that the bank is more aware if they come to make wire transfers. I can talk until I am blue in the face to my customer about sending the money to somewhere sketchy, but ultimately, if I have no other family member to contact to let them know about their mother/father/grandparents/etc. trying to send money out, I have to send the wire. 100% of the elder cases I have dealt with have never resulted in returned money. It is so, so, so important to help our elders and just family and friends in general to avoid scams like these!

  • Reply Katie |

    What a heartbreaking story. Thank you for the reminder. My mother-in-law keeps sending checks in response to some shady organizations that send her direct mail. I had to sit down with her and we picked 3 legit orgs for her to support, and I pleaded with her to throw out mail from all the others. At Thanksgiving, I’ll see if she’s followed the plan.

  • Reply scarr |

    This is exactly something that scares me for my parents as they age. Right now they don’t seem like they would fall for something like this, but their Facebook time concerns me. For many people, FB *IS* the internet – that is where they get news, play games, meet people and keep up with friends/family. So yea, this could happen to anyone.

    Also, the shame and embarrassment that goes along with getting taken for granted can prevent people from coming forward sooner 🙁

  • Reply Sarah |

    My parents got a call from their “grandson” who was in jail. He needed money for bail. My dad said they would be right down and the guy hung up. Luckily (or unluckily) they had a friend who was scammed out of $5k by a “grandson” who was in jail so my parents knew it was not legitimate.

    I once tried to wire money to Costa Rica and Western Union would not let me do it. It was totally legit. A friend had gone down there for the holidays and had forgotten cash to pay people who were working for them (chef, housekeeper, etc.). I was so mad!

  • Reply Rhitter94 |

    One of the elders from my church had to deal with this with his elderly father. The scam was that he was a winner in a contest, but he had to send money to claim his prize??? And there were some other things. Another one of my friends got scammed by a woman who needed money for rent and so forth. They met ‘online’ and he was lonely. ‘She’ filled a void, and then only to ghost him and he was out thousands of dollars. I’ve received emails regarding that I have an inheritance and so forth. It is truly scary on how predatory online scammers have become.

So, what do you think ?