Scams targeting elderly crop up


Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

Martha Pride got a call Monday afternoon from a man with a heavily accented voice.

He told the 74-year-old Pride that he needed to verify some of her personal information because they were issuing new Medicare cards. Pride said the man knew her name, current address and Social Security number and then asked her to confirm the bank she used. But when he asked her to read the line of numbers at the bottom of one of her checks, she knew something wasn’t right.

She immediately said, “I think you’re a scam,” and the man hung up.

Pride called a government hotline and reported the phone call to a representative who confirmed that it was, indeed, a scam — and not an uncommon one.

This is not Pride’s first brush with fraud. Last year, she was a victim of identity theft and because of that she now has to regularly confirm her identity.

“It’s just such a nuisance,” she said.

Pride’s 87-year-old sister received a similar call regarding new Medicare cards about two months ago and felt it was suspicious, too, and hung up.

“They obviously prey on older people,” Pride said. She also received a call last week from a woman who said she had entered herself into a lottery and needed to confirm some information.

Pride said she has warned her neighbors and friends on Facebook about the scam but worries about her elderly friends and others in the community.

Another popular phone scam has been reported to police recently. Both the Williston Police Department and the Gainesville Police Department have received complaints about callers posing as police officers asking for money and claiming there is a warrant for the individual’s arrest, or in one case, saying the resident’s son was in custody and money needed to be sent for him to be released.

Police officials advise anyone receiving suspicious phone calls not to comply with any of their demands or release any personal information without verifying the identity of the caller and the organization they are with.

Ben Tobias, spokesperson for the Gainesville Police Department, said these phone calls are unfortunately quite common and tend to target the vulnerable.

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