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
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
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!