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State Fair Hearing Seeks to Sound Alarm on Scammers

Joyce Walker of Hebron (right) and Attorney General Greg Zoeller (second from right) testify at a field hearing on scams targeting seniors. ( photo: Eric Berman)

Officials are warning scam artists are getting more tech-savvy and more aggressive, and zeroing in on senior citizens in particular.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly presided over a field hearing at the State Fair reminding Hoosiers not to give bank account information, and to be skeptical of any cash windfall they didn't initiate. He says seniors are often a target because they've outlived their debt and have a pot of savings for scammers to pursue. And because seniors often live alone, Donnelly says scam artists may try to talk their way into their trust, and then open a direct pipeline into their bank accounts.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller suggests senior citizens grew up in a more trusting time, and may not recognize the lengths to which con artists will go. And he says many seniors are less experienced using the Internet, and may become prey for scammers who use it to gather information to establish their credibility. He says the old email scam claiming to be a loved one stranded in a foreign country and in need of money has taken a twist in recent months, with scammers trolling Facebook for posts announcing a foreign trip, then calling the travelers' grandparents directly.

Joyce Walker of Hebron says she's still unraveling a telephone scam which not only swindled her 93-year-old mother out of nearly seven-thousand dollars, but tricked other apparently innocent victims into laundering the money. She says her mother fended off a bogus lottery call, but when Walker let slip the name of their doctor's name on the phone, the con artist shifted gears and called back claiming to be collecting an unpaid medical bill.

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