Don’t take any wooden nickles

“Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or confidence scheme, including romance, lottery, and sweepstakes scams, to name a few. Criminals will gain their targets’ trust and may communicate with them directly via computer, phone, and the mail; or indirectly through the TV and radio. Once successful, scammers are likely to keep a scheme going because of the prospect of significant financial gain.” – FBI

Wooden nickel - WikipediaWhen I was a kid, “old people” (like my grandpa) always told me not to take any wooden nickles. When I was in grade school, I thought that was a joke. As I got older, I figured out that “wooden nickles” generally referred to one kind of scam or another even though such coins had in the old days been issued as company tokens or script.

Every issue of AARP Magazine and also its Bulletin details the latest scams against the elderly. There are always several thousand known scams being tracked daily. One favorite is the Grandparent Scam in which a young-sounding person calls and says, “Grandpa, guess who this is?” Grandpa says, “I know, I know, it’s Bobby.”

Now the scammer has an “in” without doing any research. A real name. Most common is borrowing money, say, for getting a parent a gift which, naturally, keeps the elderly person from telling their real grandson’s parents about the loan.

Another scam–one that’s been tried on me without results–is to co-opt a friend’s e-mail and use it to send a message saying that they are traveling in a foreign country where they’ve run into a financial snag. One clue there for the elderly (or other) person getting such a request for money is: does the purported friend sound like the purported friend? Usually not.

If you’re concerned that you, or you elderly parents could become targets, there are plenty of places to look for potential anger areas, such as AARP’s “Top Scams Targeting Older Americans in 2021.” The FBI notes that “Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite. They also usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers.”

In the so-called old days, which probably happened before any of us were born, elders were purportedly revered for their wisdom and the longevity. Apparently not today. Taking their money is somewhat like a hunter shooting ducks in the water–there’s no honor in it. No shame, either, I guess.

Frankly, I’m surprised nobody has called me up yet and asked if I’m aware of the shortage of coins that’s occurred nationwide during the pandemic. When I say, “yes,” then they’ll tell me that the U. S. Mint is issuing wooden nickles to tide us over until regular coins are available again. Thanks to my grandfathe, I’m not falling for that. The sad thing is, some people will.

I’d rather have people call me up for my wisdom, but that’s just not happening.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Website

Facebook Author’s Page

Amazon Author’s Page

Gosh, I thought s/he was already dead!

When the links to news stories about the deaths of elderly famous people appear on Facebook, a fair number of people say, “Gosh, I thought s/he was already dead.” Apparently, once an old celebrity is no longer in the public eye, people tend to assume they are “dead, dead, and gone” as the phrase in the 1969 Blood, Sweat & Tears song says.

Most people didn’t say that when Kirk Douglas and Olivia de Haviland died in 2020 because both of them had been around for so long that the media mentioned their birthdays every year. So, once you’re over a hundred, people keep checking and saying, “Yep, still here.” We assume Clint Eastwood isn’t dead since, at 90, he’s still making movies and chalking up Oscar nominations.

One of my aunts lived about 104 years as well, was happy to get a letter from the President when she reached a hundred, and I think got a news story in the local paper.

Sometime between 70 and 100, we lose track of well-known people if they’ve retired. When Sophia Loren starred in “The Life Ahead” last year, people had to reassess, deciding that (a) she’s not dead, (b) “out of it,” and (c) “still has it.”  Good for her, people were saying.

For every actor or author who performs or writes when they are old and gets a “good for him” or “good for her” response from the fans, there are hundreds who are still working. The actors are, perhaps appearing in so-called character-actor roles, and the authors are turning out books and stories the critics like but that don’t make the bestseller lists (which means most prospective readers never hear about them). Day to day, these productive people who were once well known still see the life ahead and plan to make good use of it.

It would be nice, I think if more people noticed their ongoing work and watched it or read it and talked about it so that these folks don’t become isolated and unknown in their later years. Sure, if they make it to one hundred, we’ll take notice of them again as though they weren’t doing anything during their 80s and 90s. Sadly, if they make a BIG FILM or write a BIG BOOK during those two decades, we’ll say, “Gosh, I thought s/he was already dead.”

If you’re not dead, hearing that has got to be a real downer.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Website

Facebook Author’s Page

Amazon Author’s Page