Category Archives: Crimes Against Seniors

Scammers Try to Exploit Travel Season

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Many people hit the road in the summer, and crooks know it. Watch out for scammers posing as loved ones who run into trouble while traveling and need your money.

Emails from overseas

You get an email that appears to come from a friend or relative who says they were traveling overseas when disaster struck. Lost or stolen bags, a car accident, or some other calamity means they’re stuck and need you to send them money. In reality, your friend or family member probably isn’t overseas, and if they are, they don’t need your money. A crook sent the fraudulent email hoping your desire to help a loved one in need will override your common sense.

Grandparent scam

The “Grandma, it’s Me” scam plays on the same emotions and can be more believable during summer months when young people often travel. Seniors get a call from someone posing as their grandchild who claims to have been arrested or in an accident while away from home. The phony grandchild says they don’t want to bother Mom and Dad, so they ask Grandma or Grandpa to send them some money and keep it a secret. Victims may get a follow up call from someone posing as police, requesting more money on the grandchild’s behalf.

Several recent victims told our office they knew their grandchildren were on a trip and that made the con more plausible. Grandparent scammers also sometimes use information they find on social networking sites like Facebook to make their impersonation more realistic.


If you get desperate plea for money from traveling friends and family, resist the urge to send money right away. Instead:

  • Contact loved ones directly, such as by cell phone, and ask if they’re really in need of your help.
  • Ask callers questions that only the real person would know.
  • Report scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at

Craigslist Scam Advertises False Rental Deals

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

If you’re looking for a home to rent, watch out for phony online listings. Rental fraudsters find information on properties that have been listed for sale elsewhere, create fake rental listings on websites like Craigslist, and then pose as the owners when potential tenants reply.

A Winston-Salem-area consumer recently reported paying $1,000 to an online scammer who advertised a rent-to-own home deal on Craigslist. The consumer replied to the ad, signed a contract and made a payment, only to learn that the scammer didn’t really own the property.

When browsing for homes for rent or sale online, look out for these warning signs:

  • The advertised price is significantly lower than similar properties in the area.
  • The listing says the owners will be gone for years and want someone to care for their home.
  • You’re told you can only look in the windows of the property, not go inside.
  • You’re asked to pay money upfront by wire transfer or prepaid debit card, and you may be asked to send the money overseas
  • You’re told that keys are with the property owner and will be sent once the contract is signed and the deposit paid.

To protect yourself from a rental scam:

  • Search the property’s address online. If the property is listed for rent or sale with a real estate agent, contact the realtor directly.
  • Walk away from the transaction if you’re asked to pay a deposit before you’ve reviewed and signed a lease.
  • Use secure payment methods like certified bank checks or credit cards.

If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at

Thieves file phony tax returns

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Tax return identity theft happens when thieves use your Social Security Number to file tax returns and claim a large refund. You discover the fraud when you file your own tax return and the Internal Revenue Service says they’ve already processed a return using your name and number.

Avoiding tax return ID theft starts by protecting your confidential information. Don’t carry your Social Security Number in your wallet or purse unless you need it with you for an appointment that day. Don’t leave your SSN where someone can steal it, and shred unneeded documents that include it. Another way to try to beat these thieves is to get your tax return filed as soon as possible. Don’t let the thieves jump in line ahead of you.

If you get a letter from the IRS stating that they already processed your return, contact their Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 1-800-908-4490. In most cases, taxpayers are able to work with the IRS to straighten out their tax returns and, eventually, get their refund.

For more about how to prepare and file your tax forms safely, see our tax time tips and other useful information at


Scammers Use Caller ID to Pose as Cops

Caller ID is helpful, but it isn’t foolproof. In fact, tech-savvy scammers can use it to pose as legitimate businesses or even the police to try to fool you.

In a scam reported in Rockingham County this week, a business owner got a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The caller said she owed back taxes and needed to pay them immediately, similar to other fraudulent calls we’ve warned you about recently. The business owner became suspicious and hung up.

The woman’s phone rang again, and this time Caller ID indicated that the call was coming from the Rockingham Police Department. When she picked up the phone, the caller threatened to arrest her if she did not pay the phony taxes.

This kind of scam, where crooks make it appear that their calls or emails come from another telephone number or email account, is called “spoofing.” Fraudsters may spoof the number for your power company, your bank, your local government or law enforcement.  This means you can’t rely on Caller ID to provide accurate information about who is calling you.

If you get a call and have questions about whether or not it is coming from the company or government agency listed on your Caller ID, hang up and call the business or agency back at a number you know to be valid.

If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or visiting our website at

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Get Financially Savvy With NC Central Law School and Legal Aid of NC

North Carolina Central University of Law will present “Financially Savvy Seniors” on Wednesday, November 5th at 1:30 pm.    The event will be broadcast live to the Legal Aid of North Carolina Greensboro office at 122 N Elm St, Suite 700.

Participating seniors will get the facts on reverse mortgages, learn how to avoid common senior scams and get tips to avoid foreclosure.

Interested participants can contact Alecia Houston by phone at 919-530-7166 or email to reserve a seat.


Con Artists’ Tactics Revealed

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Heartless crooks who prey on the vulnerable often keep demanding more money until their victims are tapped out, or wise up. A pair of North Carolinians who pleaded guilty to multiple charges including wire fraud used this approach. The two contacted mostly elderly people saying they had won a large sweepstakes prize. The winners were told to pay a refundable fee up front in order to collect their winnings.

For those who took the bait, it was just the beginning. The crooks called back with the happy news that the size of the prize winnings had increased. But the fees had also gone up, so the winners needed to send more money. The crooks stole almost a million dollars from their victims.

These particular criminals were caught, but others using the same tactics are still out there looking for victims. Make sure your loved ones know the telltale signs of a scam, like “winning” a sweepstakes that you don’t remember entering and being asked to pay a fee before you get your prize.

If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at


Deputy District Attorney Speaks on Elder Abuse and Exploitation

Mark your calendars for highly anticipated presentations by Paul Greenwood, an internationally recognized expert on the prosecution of elder abuse and neglect, October 23-24, 2014, in Greensboro, NC.

Paul Greenwood, a San Diego County California Deputy District Attorney, inspires and brings together community stakeholders to close the net on elder abuse perpetrators. His inter-professional efforts in San Diego County, CA have one of the most successful elder abuse case prosecution rates in the U.S. Greenwood’s two presentations in Greensboro are geared to two different audiences.

For Elders/Seniors in the Triad Area
— Save the Date — Thursday October 23, 2014 10am

Paul Greenwood will speak to Triad area elders/seniors at Greensboro’s Smith Senior Center about the growing problem of Elder Abuse and Exploitation. His presentation includes a top ten list for how to protect yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim.  This event is FREE and includes a FREE brunch!

To register for this event, local Triad area elders/seniors please contact the City of Greensboro by email: or phone 336-373-2723.

For Professionals who serve aging populations
— Save the Date  —  Friday October 24, 2014 9am

Paul Greenwood will speak at the UNCG Elliott Center specifically addressing  professionals who serve aging and senior populations regarding the growing problem of Elder Abuse and Exploitation and the role professionals in a nearly every discipline can play to prevent and resolve this problem.  For this presentation, Greenwood invites prosecutors and private attorneys; law enforcement; adult protective service and other social service caseworkers; home health aides; bank employees, accountants, financial advisers, and other financial professionals; social workers; doctors and other medical professionals, first responders, and more. His presentation helps working professionals recognize the signs of elder abuse and financial exploitation, report suspected cases to appropriate entities, prosecute offenders, and prevent further abuse.  Registration for this event for professionals who serve aging populations is FREE.

RSVP at beginning September 1, 2014