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Phony Inheritance Scams Snags Southwestern Senior

“An 80-year-old Hawkins County man was swindled out of at least $4,000 that he paid as ‘fees’ to an African attorney required to receive a bogus $9.5 million inheritance.”


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This is a cautionary tale for seniors, who are often targeted by scammers, and their adult children, who need to protect their aging parents.

The 80-year-old victim had received phone calls from a man claiming to be an attorney from the African nation of Ghana named Abu Jones. He told the elderly man that he’d inherited $9.5 million, which could only be collected after paying fees to the U.S. Treasury Department. He was instructed to send money order payments to a person in Hawthorne, Nevada.

The person from Hawthorne was being scammed as well.

The elderly man sent several payments to the Hawthorne resident, who in turn sent those payments on somewhere else. He told police that he wasn’t sure how much money he had sent to the person in Hawthorne, but believed it was in excess of $4,000.

A bank in Hawthorne was working with the Hawkins County Sherriff’s Office to try to return a portion of the money to the victim.

Scams centered in outsized inheritances and fraudulent lottery prizes are very common. They all require payment of some kind of fees, in order to receive the inheritance or the prize. Needless to say, there is no inheritance, nor is there a prize.

The public is reminded to never send money orders, gift cards or give anyone credit card numbers or gift card numbers, if they are requested by someone making a promise of a big payday.

The first thing to do if you are targeted, is to hang up. The second is to call the local authorities, especially if the caller is persistent and seems to have obtained personal financial information about you or has dire news about a family member.

Many of these crimes go unreported, because the victims are embarrassed that they have fallen for what appears in hindsight to be a very obvious scam. Seniors who are more trusting than younger people, or who suffer from even mild cognitive decline are most vulnerable.

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