Protecting your aging parents from scams

Many families face the dilemma of whether to intervene when an aging parents may be making a serious financial mistake, but staying silent could be a costly error.

Honora Precourt says she doesn't understand how her well-educated father got mixed up with scam artists.

"I discovered it in the middle of the process when he was trying to charge a hotel room and his credit card was maxed out," Precourt says.

She asked him why and he said he was buying coins and stamps and the man he was dealing with charged his card.

"I thought that is bizarre behavior," she says, "but I trust my Dad, and I didn't want to question him."

Now, she regrets that she let it go. Her father was not only involved in a coin scam, he also was spending his money on bogus lottery sweepstakes.

"One day he said he was in trouble, in financial trouble," she says. "I thought this is impossible. My Dad is a really smart person."

Honora's father has since passed away. She believes he lost more than $100,000.

"To her shock and surprise while going through his belongings she found several solicitations from fraudulent offers in the mail," says Tom Ouellette, a US Postal Inspector. "He literally had stacks and stacks on his desk."

Investigators learned the coin business was also a scam.

"The amount he was paying compared to the value of the coins was absurd. A $10 coin for example would cost $500," Ouellette explains.

"I really want to prevent other people from going through what my family experienced," says Precourt.
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