Scammers Aggressively Targeting Senior Citizens - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Scammers Aggressively Targeting Senior Citizens

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By Adam Ghassemi

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Kenneth Clark can still remember his reaction to the phone call saying he won millions of dollars and a new car.

"Now it's a Jaguar. Last year it was Mercedes," he joked Thursday.

But more importantly, what it would mean for his family.

"When they told me I won this the first thing that came to my mind was that I would be able to do things for my grand kids and pay their way for college when they get ready to go," he said.

Now a year and a half later, and a mountain of money wire receipts, he knows he's been scammed out of at least a thousand dollars of his own money.

"$50 is important to me," he said.

Clark said he responded to a letter in the mail claiming he had won a lottery. Soon the non-stop phone calls started. Scammers tricked him into believing if he cashed checks sent to him, wired a portion to Jamaica and kept a portion, he would eventually get his payout.

Barbara Bethea Director of Risk Management at Fort Campbell Federal Credit Union said she's dealing with more of these cases every day where scammers are willing to say anything to get access to thousands.

"They may sound like a caring person, but really their ultimate goal is to steal your money," Bethea said. "These people are very persistent, very persistent and they continue to call."

They're so persistent a man with a Jamaican accent called Clark in the middle of our interview Thursday.

"We're going to try to send you some money orders," the man said over speaker phone while instructing Clark to cash a $5,000 check being sent to him and wire a portion to Jamaica, just like all those times before.

"How much am I wiring?" Clark asked. "You're going to wire, um, $450," the man replied.

Now Clark knows better as he works with Bethea and investigators to get everything straightened out.

"I didn't think that I was going to be caught up into any kind of a scam. I thought that it was something that I had to do to receive my money," he said.

Clark's loss is very small comparatively. This type of scam can often wipe out someone's life savings. One elderly woman, who asked to remain anonymous, may have lost up to $60,000 to scammers the very same way, but is too ashamed to admit it to her family.

Clarksville Police released numbers showing so far this year 8,777 people across the state age 55 and older reported this type of theft. Sixty four were in Clarksville.

Fort Campbell Federal Credit Union officials said older Tennesseans aren't the only victims. They often see young soldiers getting tricked into handing over thousands.

If you think you're a victim, call police and your bank or credit union immediately.


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