Once again, scammers targeting elderly residents
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 11:03

Fortunately, local woman got her money back

by Ben Boehl

    We’ve seen the stories on the national magazine shows about seniors getting scammed. It happens all over, but it hit home recently when an Edgemere resident became a victim of a scam.
    Sherry Gerben reported that her 83-year-old mother-in-law was harassed into giving out her bank account information.    
    While it may seem simple to advise seniors not to give out any type of information, Gerben warned that some seniors have mental illnesses such as dementia and could be more vulnerable.
   

In this case, Gerben said a man called her mother-in-law claiming that her Medicare card had expired and that his company was providing seniors with a new insurance card and therefore needed as much information as possible. Gerben said the salesman wouldn’t take no for an answer.
    “My mother-in-law hung up on this guy like two or three times, but he kept calling back. She wasn’t feeling good and has COPD. He keep badgering her enough where she finally gave out her account number.”
    Then when her mother-in-law got a bank statement, money was gone from her account. She told Gerben and her husband that she never gave the man permission to get out the money, but all he needed was the account number.
    “It looks like they are making money on seniors who are in their 80s,” Gerben said.
    It was reported that $447.34 was taken from the woman’s account. A third party was involved called YR Benefits. When Gerben looked up the company online, others across the country claimed the identical amount of $447.34 was taken from other accounts too.
    According to scambook.com, Gerben’s mother-in-law was not alone, as there were 80 complaints filed with YR Benefits since June 1 and in almost every case $447.34 was taken out of each account. Complaints have been filed in over 20 states on the west coast, midwest, southeast and here in the northeast.
    According to its website, YR Benefits stands for the Young & Rubicam Group, a well-known and reputable firm that does offer benefits. The company has posted a statement on its website claiming that it has no connection to the scam and points to individuals posing as YR representatives.
    “It has come to our attention that callers posing as representatives of YR Benefits are contacting senior citizens informing them that their Medicare card has expired, and requesting their home address and bank account number in order to issue a new card. The information provided is then used to electronically withdraw funds from the bank account without the account holder’s knowledge or permission,” the company said in a July 13 statement. “Please be assured that YR Benefits is in no way associated with these calls.”
    The statement went on to say that the company is working with authorities on these cases.
    Gerben said her mother-in-law was able to get her $447.34 back and advises other caregivers of seniors to watch out for these types of scams.
    “How many other seniors out there are they doing this to? My mother-in-law is lucky that we noticed this,” Gerben added. “How many seniors out there have been a victim of this that don’t have a caregiver taking care of their finances?”
    On another scam-related note, Center Place resident Mary Briggs contacted The Eagle on Monday to report that she had been contacted by a scammer seeking similar information, but that when she asked for a phone number she could use to confirm his claims, he hung up.
    As always, the Baltimore County Police Department provides the following advice to citizens:
    • Never give out their personal or banking information (account and routing numbers) over the phone.
    • Attempt to verify the identity of unknown callers, and if possible obtain a callback number. Remember, the phone number could be linked to a fraudulent location.
    • Never mail currency or checks to an unknown business or person(s).
    • Alert a close family member or friend and call police if the call appears to be suspicious.