Although scams can target anyone, they often prey on elderly victims. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2021 Elder Fraud Report, over 92,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $1.7 billion — this represents a 74 percent increase in losses over the losses reported in 2020.
In early 2023, Reddit user u/Far-Statistician201 took to the "Scams" subreddit and revealed that his wife's grandparents were scammed out of $25,000 in just two weeks. Read on to learn more about this heartbreaking story.
A woman's grandparents were scammed out of $25,000 in two weeks.
"My wife's grandfather, Jim, and his wife, Lilly, have been scammed out of $25,000 in two weeks," the OP explained, adding that the elderly couple also lost "tens of thousands of dollars in the last couple [of] months."
The OP recalled Jim calling his daughter, Annie, and telling her he was broke and "had no money." Now, the elder has owned a successful business for 65 years and has always been in charge of the finances, so this is unusual. However, since he's 80 years old and looking to retire and sell his business, he had Lilly take on the bills for a bit.
One week later, Lilly's daughter — who lives with her and Jim — told the OP and his wife that she was worried Jim was "being scammed out of a couple hundred dollars by someone using the new winner car transportation scam." The OP and his wife looked over their bank accounts — and this is where everything comes to a head.
As it turns out, the 62-year-old Lilly would friend and follow several Facebook pages that she thought were run by her favorite celebrities. She would message back and forth with them, and at some point, the scammer would ask Lilly to chat on other messaging apps. Then, they would ask for money.
"They would then ask if she had a fan membership card or something along those lines. The scammer would then ask for $100–$500 for the fee to receive a membership card via gift card, [and] poof, money gone," the OP said.
He added, "The other one is a twist on the Nigerian prince scam; the 'manager for the artist' would tell her she was 1 of 20 the celebrity selected to receive $20,000, she just had to pay the shipping fee via gift card, poof, money gone."
The OP said he and his wife started looking through her grandparent's phones to figure out who they were talking to and how they were being scammed. Unfortunately, they found out that the couple sent pictures of gift cards and their IDs to the scammers.
"We started looking for these gift cards and found a couple along with receipts that totaled up to about $2,000," the OP wrote. "We then searched her car and found a stack with receipts about eight inches tall ranging [from] $100–$700 totaling $25,000 in two weeks."
Eventually, the OP and his wife's family found out where Lilly was getting the money from: She maxed out credit cards and used all of their savings to buy these gift cards. Ugh — how devastating.
"She put $2,000 on a credit card (maxing it out, [Jim] just spent $15,000 replacing the engine in his truck), cleaned the last $5,000 from his personal checking ($10,000 was spent on bills last month), and transferred the last $8,000 from Jim's business account (just had payroll and paid a large material bill) to her personal checking account and took all $10,000 in cash out of their safe, every single dime went into these gift cards," the OP revealed.
Many fellow Redditors took to the comment section and expressed worry for Lilly's wellbeing, suggesting she meet with a medical professional immediately to get evaluated for early signs of cognitive decline. The OP responded that Lilly will get screened for early signs of dementia or Alzheimer's.
Please, keep an eye on your elderly family members!