The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).





Of Bradley County Tn.


JULY  2012

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

HOME

BACK ISSUE ARCHIVE

EDITORIALS

LETTERS

CONTACT US

THE GRAPEVINE
A Reader Comment Blog

Elder Fraud
One couple's losses and hard lessons

Feature Writers


SPECIAL REPORT

COLUMNIST

TN.  MOCKINGBIRD

A PERSONAL VIEW

SPORTS

COLUMNIST

MATTER OF FAITH

ASHLEY'S AVENUE

FEED BAG

READ ALL ABOUT IT

COLUMNIST



KATIE'S SPOT

CHLOE


Alexandra Edwards


Daniel Gardner

June Griffin


Mel Griffith


Jerry Keys


Joe Kirkpatrick


Joel Lawler


Ashley Murphy


Pauline Murphy


Pettus Read


John Stossel



Katie McFadden


Chloe Lawler


by Allen G. Breed
Associated Press

{Story was edited for length}

With their elderly parents seated across the octagonal oak table, Donna and Jim Parker were back in the kitchen they knew so well -- the hutch along one wall crammed with plates, bells and salt-and-pepper shakers picked up during family trips; at the table's corner, the spindly wooden high chair where a 7-year-old Jim had tearfully confessed to setting a neighbor's woods ablaze.

It was Christmastime, but this was no holiday gathering. Now, it was the parents who were in deep trouble, and this was an intervention.

For the past year, Charles and Miriam Parker, both 81, had been in the thrall of an international sweepstakes scam. The retired educators, with a half-dozen college degrees between them, had lost tens of thousands of dollars.

But money wasn't just leaving the Parker house. Strangely, large sums were now coming in, too.

Their four children were worried, but had so far been powerless to open their parents' eyes. If they wouldn't listen to their kids, Donna thought, maybe they'd listen to people with badges.

And so, joining them at the family table that late-December day in 2005 were Special Agent Joan Fleming of the FBI and David Evers, an investigator from the North Carolina attorney general's telemarketing fraud unit.

At first, the Parkers were angry at what they considered their children's betrayal. They had always been wary of the government, particularly the Internal Revenue Service. "Well, they're just after your money," Charles Parker would say.

But they'd politely invited the two officers in.

The home was littered with sweepstakes mailers and "claim" forms, the cupboards bare of just about everything but canned soup, bread and crackers. Charles Parker acknowledged to their guests that he'd lost a lot of money, but expressed confidence that he and his wife would eventually succeed if they just kept "investing."

The officers explained they were there to ask for the Parkers' help in catching these predators. With their permission, Evers installed a "mooch line" on the kitchen phone so they could capture incoming calls.

Charles, a war veteran, was tickled at the notion of being part of an undercover operation. He and his wife pledged their cooperation.

After gathering up some of the mailings for evidence, the officers left, encouraged by what seemed a few hours well spent.

But in the coming months and years, things would only get worse for the Parker family -- much worse.

It's important to note at the outset that the Parkers were hardly unsophisticated people, the type to be easily fooled. Born in 1924, Charles Alexander Parker and Miriam Wilkinson were high school sweethearts back in Pitman, N.J. Charles served on a Navy destroyer escort off north Africa in World War II, after which they married and embarked on a life of learning and teaching.

Between their savings and Charles' pension, they were looking at a comfortable retirement.

Then the conman entered their lives.
___

Older Americans lose $2.9 billion a year to fraud, according to a study conducted last year by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech. Most victims are between 80 and 89, and most are women.

"Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century," Denise Voigt Crawford, past president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, said when the report was released.

Using the latest technologies, "these criminals need not defraud their victims face-to-face," David Kirkman and Virginia H. Templeton wrote in a 2007 article for the journal Alzheimer's Care Today. From far away, "they can identify vulnerable seniors, contact them, and induce them to part with their savings."

A slowing down of brain function comes with normal aging, they noted. The elderly are susceptible to errors in judgment, particularly in situations where a snap decision is required -- such as during a telemarketing call.

"Experience teaches us that those with mild dementia tend to be the most vulnerable," wrote Kirkman and Templeton, respectively an assistant attorney general in North Carolina and a gerontologist.

The Mayo Clinic defines "mild cognitive impairment" as an "intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia."

The basis for a diagnosis in many cases: falling victim to repeated scams.
___

No one can say exactly how the trouble began in the Parkers' case.

They might have made a small donation to some charity or responded to a sweepstakes letter they got in the mail. Somehow, the couple ended up on what people in the industry call the "sucker list."

Click here for rest of story.


.

DEBT CEILING DEAL - Your Questions Answered

EDITORIALS


JOKES & HUMOR


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR


CARTOONS

A fun way to find what
you want in Cleveland

Cleveland-Bradley
Business Online

www.ClevelandBradleyBusiness.com

THIS JUST IN
Archive

Back Issue
Archive

Click here to go to latest issue

What Do You Think?
SURVEY



Do you believe enough is being done to protect the elderly from financial abuse by telemarketing criminals?

See story on this page.

Totals for this survey will be tabulated at the end of July 2012
Click here for results after July

The People News
PO Box 3921
Cleveland TN. 37320
(423) 559-2150  Fax 559-1044

Pete Edwards, Editor - Publisher

Ashley Murphy, Assitant Editor
Copyright 2012 (All rights reserved)

Newest Addition to The People News...
The Grapevine Blog!

The People News is adding something new. We wanted to expand our website in order to give you, the reader, a voice about local happenings. Of course, if your thoughts involve state, national, or international issues then we want to hear those as well!

Thoughts, ideas, questions, concerns, complaints or praises about whatever happens to be on your mindů we want to hear it all!

Simply visit the new feature, a comment blog called The Grapevine
, to start sharing your thoughts about our continuously updated stories. If you don't want to share, feel free to browse to see what others have to say.

Just remember... You Heard It Through The Grapevine!

.

Editorials  Website Survey Results  Salute to our troops  Twelve and Counting


.

HOME

BACK ISSUE ARCHIVE

EDITORIALS

LETTERS

CONTACT US