Thursday, March 26, 2015


     Remember when I mentioned that it was important to check on your elders, and I referenced scams, well ...
     Today, I helped a wonderful WWII veteran.  He came into the office and told me that he thought he might have made a mistake.  He wanted to talk to me about it, and it was clear that he was upset with himself.  He had received a phone call from someone purporting to be the IRS.  They told him that he owed back taxes from 2008-2013. They told him that they'd been trying to reach him for several weeks, and this was the final straw. They told him that if he didn't pay up immediately, they were going to seize his home and all his belongings.  They told him that there would be jail time. They yelled at him and threatened him.  They told him to go to the bank and withdraw several thousand dollars and deposit it in an account that they provided him.  There would be paperwork to follow, and his house would be safe.
     Now before you say, obviously this is a scam - the IRS doesn't work that way ... how naïve, how frail, I'd never fall for that. Maybe. But this is the second time I've had something like this happen in two weeks.  The last one was to a young man, newly in the country.  They threatened to arrest him, cart him off.  He was reduced to tears in front of me.  He said, "How would I have known it didn't work like that here?" I apologized to him, told him that I was sorry this had happened to him in my country, that this was no way to treat a guest.  These scams happen a lot, and they know who to prey on.
     In both instances, I was very fortunately able to get them their money back before it was too late. But most of the time that doesn't happen.  It's gone, untraceable.  My veteran talked with me a while afterwards.  His wife had died 3 months ago.  He showed me his cell phone with her picture on it.  He told me that he could hear her telling him to come talk to me, to see if I could help him.  He gives lectures at schools and veteran's groups about the war; he gave me his business card.  He's 90 years old and active - still skis.  He carries a laminated picture of the cemetery at Omaha Beach in his back pocket, told me he's been several times.  He called it the cemetery of 17, 18 & 19 year olds - quoted the numbers to me.  He said that whenever someone thanks him for his service, he shows them the picture and says, "Thank them, not me. I was just lucky enough to come back."  
     I sincerely hope that these people who scam those amongst us who need our help and support the most ... I hope they'll see the error of their ways.  And when they don't, I hope they're culled from the herd.

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