Scams and Hoaxes


This morning, Thursday 4/17/14, CBS News featured an interview of

someone who had preyed on innocent senior citizens. There are some

redeeming factors to the interview, though. This ‘con artist’ is

currently giving advice to those who are being ‘scammed,’ his victims.

The April AARP Magazine, that I have received and embraced, since

my fiftieth birthday, featured a more amusing take on the subject

matter, titled: “The Monkey Matisse and Other Great Hoaxes.” I

recommend reading the details of this, I am sure it is available

online, too. There were six stories that were quite amusing, with

the theme of fooling people, in the last fifty years.

The subject matter brought to mind one of my favorite movies of

all time, “Catch Me If You Can.” It is mainly due to 2 different

angles of the movie. One is that I enjoyed the period of time, (the

sities), the famous young man was able to ‘con’ his way into hospitals,

airlines and other professional fields. The character that Leonardo

Di Caprio plays is of that of a real life ‘con artist,’ Frank Abagnale,

Jr., who is currently a securities consultant. The character, who chases

him across American and catches him in Europe, is played by Tom Hanks.

Frank is ten years older than I, so his being able to portray a doctor

while in his twenties, along with a variety of roles, makes this movie

and story quite fascinating to me. I enjoyed the time he is an airline

pilot. During the period where I was growing up, many of my friends and

I thought it would be exciting to become an airline stewardess and ‘See

the world!’ In one famous scene, shown in “Catch Me If You Can’s”

advertising promotional campaign, Frank is walking down the hallway in

an international airport, with a few beautiful airline stewardesses on

his arms. (The current appropriate label would be ‘Flight Attendants.’)

He does fall in love with someone along the way, but while ‘running’ and

‘escaping’ from the law, he is not able to sustain an enduring relationship.

This man, Frank Abagnale, also appeared on one of my family’s favorite

television shows, “To Tell the Truth.” I remember the episode, (1977), along

with the interesting famous personalities who were ‘regulars.’ Some who

portrayed the four ‘judges’ were smoking on set, in the original 60’s time


I felt this show, which ran from 1956 until 2001, was a great example of

how everyone is easily fooled by the outward appearance of someone. The

famous line which was sincerely spoken was, “My name is ______.”

The ‘bad’ outcome of how we can make mistakes in identifying an honest

person from a thief, though, is that elderly and young people are more

likely to become their ‘preys’ or victims.

I remember wearing proudly my American Airlines’s set of wings,

pinned on my jacket. Another time, proudly wearing United Airlines

wings, indicating I was a “stewardess in training.” This was in

the era that transporting children was either ‘free’ or reasonable

cost. Did you ever have a piece of memorabilia that was from a

vacation or travel, that means a lot to you?

My brothers also liked such little emblems of their participating

in such ‘pretend play,’ as in the case of wearing Sheriff’s badges

while touring the Wild West section of Cedar Point Amusement Park,

in Sandusky, Ohio.

The current ‘scammers’ are able through technology and hacking

devices, to not only get lists of senior citizens, but also contact


The real example of a woman, on the CBS Today show, sent off large

checks, unfortunately, to help her grandchild. The caller, con artist,

listed fabricated identification and indicated the call receiver’s

grandson was incarcerated and needed money for a lawyer. The name of

the grandson, his hometown and an address were given to her. Sadly,

she lost quite a large amount of money, believing she was aiding her

family member.

This picture painted in the scenario indicates how high some people

‘fly’ to help and reach others, and how low some people ‘sink’ to

take advantage of caring elderly people. The story of Frank Abagnale

and this new person featured in the interview, trade their knowledge

for freedom. Phone scams are prevalent and the new guy in the interview

gave two important suggestions for aiding the ones being taken advantage


1. Ask the caller some detail or fact about the family member that will

identify the real person’s identity. Something that would not be in the

public knowledge of that person. Not a job or occupation, these are

often easily acquired. A pet’s name, a special hobby or interest are

examples of personal information not available to most ‘hackers.’

2. Ask if you may contact your lawyer or another family member to

verify the validity of the story. I think this should always be true,

whether a phone or at the door salesperson.

“What are your references?” and “Please give me some phone numbers.”

The woman who gave away thousands of dollars to help her grandson

will not recover her money. No one is going to bail her out of the

‘jam’ she got herself into, but she shared her story and the criminal

who has participated in these hoaxes, shared his helpful tips.

If you spot or have a family member who is scammed, or wish to prevent

one that you have had a phone call or visit from someone, call your

local police authorities and here is an AARP online site to contact:

Anyone over fifty may be interested not only in the serious articles,

that include health concerns, financial advice column and political

impacts on the older American citizens but in the great interviews of

famous people. I love the covers of such famous people who now have

reached my fifty-plus age bracket as Kevin Costner, Susan Saranden and

the four handsome men from that fun movie, “Last Vegas.”

Also, you will get with your $15 dollars an AARP card that you may get

attached to your Walgreens or other ‘rewards’ cards. This reduces your

prescriptions, travel and restaurant costs from 1o% to 40%. I am not

employed by AARP, but would love to write a humorous column on dating

after fifty and how relationships reveal our hearts, from generation

to generation. Person to person, we all have needs, we are social

(for the most part) beings who like to help each other out…

One last horrible fact, presented on the CBS report, is that new

technology has allowed savvy people to ‘hack’ into systems. It can

actually invade our ‘Caller ID’ area of our phones. So, the woman

who was called, answered her phone to the scammer, thinking that

this was actually her grandson’s phone number being used!

I am off today and on my way to the eye surgeon for my four month

check up. My Fall optical appointment, with an optician, indicated I

had ‘high eye pressure’ again. I went to see Arena Eye Surgeons’

Dr. Pappas, in December. Now, I hope he will give me another ‘pass’

on the eyes since it has been only two years since I had holes

drilled into both my eyes, below the pupils, with laser surgery to

‘cure’ or temporarily relieve something called, “Narrow Eye Glaucoma.”

Remember to go to your eye doctors and ask them to do more than the

‘puff test.’ He or she can perform a more accurate test to detect ‘eye

degenerative disease.’

It is a shame that I am happy to take a day off to see the doctor!

Anything to get ‘away from work!’

I really wished I could have scheduled my eye exam, with extensive

testing on Good Friday. As in the case of many doctors, they are not

available due to their own personal or staff vacation time. Dr. Pappas

has Friday surgical scheduling in his Columbus office.

I will be possibly writing one more post, before Easter, but just

in case I don’t:

Have a blessed Easter, if you celebrate this holy day.

If not, have a wonderful weekend, my dear friends!


22 responses »

    • That is a good way to remember not to ‘fall’ for hoaxes. Sometimes though, as with the elderly woman, she has a good heart and felt she was helping her grandson by sending money… It is hard to say what we would do, in that case!

  1. I recently heard about that poor grandmother, so sad. This week I had my online bank account hacked. It’s a terrible feeling when you’re the victim.
    Oh Robin, I had no idea about your eye surgery. I hope you get a clean report today!
    Have a blessed Easter!

    • I am so sad and upset about your bank account being hacked into! Oh no! I hope that you get it all straightened out, Jill! I am so sorry you were the victim in this crime!
      Thanks, Jill, for the kind comment about my eyes. I had shared that awhile back, maybe the first year I started blogging… Hope you have a special Easter, too! Hugs, Robin

    • Luanne, I so agree! I think that there should be severe punishment for those who hurt or prey on the youngest and oldest of our population. (And killing them is extremely upsetting, when someone in Ohio killed his grandpa for guns for money, I just wanted to put into place the death penalty! But I usually don’t think that it is 100% the best way… I vacillate on this thought…) Something in the law should say, “We all need to take care of ‘even the least of these.'”

      • Yes, I so agree. That’s also why I believe in taking care of animals because I think how we treat animals shows what we are made of. How anybody treats anybody weaker than themselves is indicative of their character.

  2. robin, i always thought it would be great to be a stewardess when i was growing up, and loved that movie so much. as for the seniors, it’s really sad that there is always someone out there trying to scam those who are the most vulnerable. happy easter to you too ) b

    • I think between our dreams of being a detective or P.I. and stewardess, it is interesting we chose children to teach! Hope you have a special time with the closest grands! I am packed and ready to leave the library any moment! (First up to Mom’s then back to my son’s where teh holiday continues all day long!) Smiles, Robin

    • I agree with that karma thought! So much better than what I was writing on Luanne’s response. I sometimes wonder where I get the anger to say such things as ‘severe punishment…’
      Also, so fun if we all could have started as stewardesses and then really bonded! (Beth had that dream, too! Smiles, Robin p.s. Have a wonderful Easter, Shelley!

  3. I am always saddened by those who take advantage of vulnerable people. The con artists robbed their victims of their ability to provide for their future needs. How the scammers can live with themselves is truly sickening.

    • I agree! I was all about punishment on Luanne’s comments! I guess Shelley’s karma comment helped tone me down! But it is a sad commentary on society when children and the elderly are not well protected and they are taken advantage of! I always considered they were ‘the least of these,’ which we need to watch over. Thanks Judy, for this comment and have a great holiday, too! Smiles,Robin

      • I like your additions, Judy! Payback can be like a bear! Also, I agree, ‘what goes around, comes around!’ Thanks for these reminders! It is easier than wasting energy wishing for bad things to happen to those perpetrators!

  4. One other problem with hoaxes are ‘get rich quick’ schemes. I know someone who fell for the you have won and out of country lottery (which by the way is illegal – I think), but you have to pay a ‘small’ fee in order to get your prize. Be warned if you didn’t enter the lottery you probably didn’t win it. The person had to close their bank account and open a new one. Almost as bad as Identity theft.

    As for Caller ID scamming numbers of real people, is unfortunately not new. My general rule is that I don’t pick up any Unknown, Private, or Unavailable number – if they can’t leave a message then it wasn’t important. My phone is for my use not theirs.

    I sort of have fun looking up the numbers to see if anyone has actually ID’ed them. Like on 800 notes. I even have a document called Nasty Numbers so I can go and check the number to see if I even need to go to 800 notes. I get quite a few calls to reduce my credit card rate – I don’t think so. Most of these pholks are just phishing.

    Cheers, Jules

    • I love all of this, Jules! I am sending you no more ‘get rich quick’ notes nor any calls to your house, since you won’t recognize my number! Ha ha!
      I liked also the idea of looking up numbers to see if anyone has ID’ed them yet. I think that document of Nasty Numbers is a great idea! I hate credit card calls and I keep those envelopes and stick white stickers on them and re-use them, since we have white labels at the end of our days that we toss out. I have sent many re-cycled credit card application envelopes with my rent checks in them! Smiles, Robin

    • I agree, everyone needs to be careful! I think the magazine has helpful hints and the articles in newspapers that emphasize the young and old as victims, just had me thinking that way. All need protection from scammers! Thanks, Timi! Smiles and hugs for your reminder!

  5. It’s a shame that we have to be so suspicious of others. As a trusting soul, I just know that one day, a scammer will find me. I know enough to be careful, but my disposition is to trust people because I am trustworthy…

    • I like the way you put this, honest people expect honesty back. Trust is a great word to define yourself with, Lorna! I also have been too trusting in my personal relationships… My Dad said that I “expected the promises of men lusting after me would come true,” too much!

  6. Some people prefer to scam a living rather than do honest labor, and that’s just sad. The government is often uninterested in helping in these scams because the amount of money is not enough to interest them or the states don’t have the right laws in place. Getting independent verification should always happen.

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