Elderly warned over ‘professional and convincing’ phone scammers

Elderly warned over ‘professional and convincing’ phone scammers

A LOCAL councillor is urging people to look out for their elderly neighbours after a woman was duped out of hundreds of euro from a man she believed was from Revenue Commissioners.

A LOCAL councillor is urging people to look out for their elderly neighbours after a woman was duped out of hundreds of euro from a man she believed was from Revenue Commissioners.

Independent councillor Ken O’Flynn said it was only when the woman’s daughter complained in passing about the manner in which Revenue dealt with her that he knew something was very wrong.

The woman from Knocknaheeny, who is aged in her 80s, had given over €600 in what she believed was backdated tax.

Even days after the incident, she and her family never suspected that the phone call was a scam.

Now, Mr O’Flynn is expressing concern that there are other older people who are being regularly scammed without even realising it.

He recalled the encounter which occurred a week ago.

“I was told that it was a disgrace that the Revenue was ringing people and harassing them for money,” he said.

“The situation just didn’t seem right. We deduced that it was a scam after a couple of minutes of discussing this.”

Mr O’Flynn said that often families of the victim can be just as oblivious.

“Her family were under the impression this was money she owed too,” he said of the constituent.

“People are trusting. We are all very trusting at times. There now seems to be a new scam a week.

“Some people are getting six telephone calls in a day. It is something that has to be taken to task on an international scale, or certainly within the European Union.”

He said that what was once an infrequent occurrence is now happening every day.

“It’s usually a couple of hundred [euro] that gets taken,” he said.

“This seems to be every day. A lot of the scammers are very professional and convincing.

“No matter how much you warn people, if a call sounds official enough, you are going to comply. This is especially the case if you are elderly and trusting.”

Mr O’Flynn added that people with landlines are particularly vulnerable.

“A lot of the time the landline is connected to the emergency switch on a person’s SOS bracelet,” he said.

“In many cases, that’s the only reason why the landline is still operating.”

He said that many of his older constituents are ringfencing their limited savings for funeral expenses.

“Most of the people targeted have a couple of thousand in the credit union, earmarked for their final send-off,” he said.

Sally Hanlon from Support after Crime Services said scam victims have been reaching out to them more regularly in recent times.

“There are quite a few elderly people being scammed,” she said.

“The fraud squad are doing ferocious work, but these people are getting more convincing. It’s become very secretive, because people feel that if others know, the finger will be pointing at them. They’ll often hear remarks like: ‘I thought you would have been cuter’, which can have a huge effect on a person’s confidence.

“Some are very private and won’t tell anyone outside the Gardaí. I had one man contact me who had been duped out of €90,000, who had given up because he knew the money was gone. You would feel like crying for these people.”

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