The caller said Holly Morton’s elderly mother, Genevieve, owed back taxes and if she didn’t pay – and pay immediately, like, in the next 45 minute – agents were going to come to her door and arrest her.
“I was shaking all over,” Holly said Tuesday. “I was going to have to stand in the doorway with arms open, saying, ‘You can’t come in and get her!’”
Holly, who lives near Kitsap Lake with Genevieve, called the Bremerton Police Department and spoke to an officer. He said in a very calm voice that it was a scam, the perpetrators were likely in a foreign country. He would forward a report to the FBI, but no cop was going to come and arrest her 98-year-old mother.
“I actually bought a thank you note for that,” said Holly, 65. “It’s nice to have support when this happens. It’s almost like we got robbed.”
Although the ruse was convincing, it’s not uncommon. Holly estimates she fields about three scam calls a week for her mom. Three.
The FBI has a page on its website dealing with seniors and scams. Although it offers plausible reasons for why seniors seem to be targeted so often, it doesn’t explain the mystery Holly describes: frequent calls from people she figures are not who they say they are.
Holly frequently checks on her mom’s bank accounts but that she doesn’t know why they keep targeting Genevieve, other than she is a senior and seniors seem to be targeted.
It’s gotten so bad, Holly has considered disconnecting the land line, but that would cause more problems than it solves, as it is how Genevieve reaches Holly when she is out shopping.
“Sometimes I say ‘hello?’ and they will hang up. Sometimes they will say they are selling a security system.”
“Security system is a big one,” Holly added. “It’s just horrible for senior adults to get picked on like this.”
Genevieve is hard of hearing, and doesn’t see well, which may be why she has not made such a productive mark for the scam artists who seem to be hounding her.
“Thank goodness she can’t hear, or she might answer and say ‘yes,’” Holly said.