Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gambling Addiction

I shouldn't really talk about my children's weaknesses, but I just learned today that Tom apparently has a gambling problem. In fact, he ran up a huge bill and was about to be arrested unless he paid the bill tomorrow.

I learned this from my mother. Tom called her and asked if she could help him. When she asked if Walt couldn't help him, he said he was too embarrassed and to please not tell us. She was going to call him back when she got the money together (which would involve selling some stock) but he said that his cell phone was broken and that he would call her.

....is this beginning to sound fishy to you?

Yes, my mother has been targeted by someone who is out to bilk her of lots of money and nearly did. She is so fortunate that even at 92 she still has her wits about her and decided to do some investigating of her own. She spoke with her broker, who thought it sounded fishy too.

Then she decided to try calling Tom's "broken" cell phone number and of course he answered. And of course he isn't in any trouble. And not only that, he doesn't even gamble at all.

Fortunately her broker was able to stop the sale of her stock and have her avoid paying capital gains tax on it.

She was surprised at how much the faux Tom knew about Tom and I suddenly realize that this journal could be a goldmine of information that could be used to defraud my mother, so I'm going to watch myself a bit more. But this journal isn't the only place where you can find out about Tom or anybody else in my family. Peach has the whole family tree on line. You can google any of the kids and get information about them from one site or another.

I called the local police to find out how you report something like this and learned that unless someone is actually the victim of a crime like this, there is nothing that can be done. Often these are international schemes which originate overseas and no way to trace them, even though the calls are placed in this country.

The woman at the police department suggested that my mother buy a whistle and when someone like this calls her she blow the whistle into the mouthpiece of the telephone and then hang up. She felt that would discourage them from trying again. Literally "blowing the whistle" on them. I'm going to buy her a whistle and see if that works. (So Jeri, Ned and Tom--be advised that if you want money from your grandmother and don't want us to know about it, you'd be better off asking in person or you might get your ear damaged!)

Unfortunately, my mother is being targeted for a lot of these scams. At least once, if not twice a month, she receives a call, supposedly from her bank, checking on some money withdrawal that she was supposed to have made. Thank goodness my mother worked for a bank most of the adult life and knows when something doesn't sound right. They tell her that the withdrawal might show up on her statement, but not to worry because it will be removed because they know it's not a vaid withdrawal. She immediately goes to the bank and in the time it takes her to get there, someone has withdrawn money from her account. Fortunately, the bank has been good about reversing the charges.

Also, fortunately, her bank is near her house, she prefers doing her banking in person, and she has a good relationship with the people in the bank. Even with all that, she has had to get a new checking account five times in the past year and they still call her.

Blowing the whistle on these people might be a good idea too.

The bank has been trying to get my mother to file a police report but she hasn't done it yet because she doesn't understand how anybody but a bank employee could have information about her records.

A couple of years ago, two women showed up at the bank with a large check signed by my mother and tried to cash it. Fortunately the bank manager called my mother to check if it was valid or not and it turns out that they had stolen her income tax check and had removed the IRS information and inserted their own names.

My mother has just become a wonderful, convenient punching bag for all sorts of scams. So far she has not actually lost any money in all of this but it's only a matter of time. Tom's gambling debt was a close call because who doesn't want to keep their grandchild from prison? It's sad that there is no way to go after the people who are trying to catch her.


phonelady said...

Oh my goodness people have no shame anymore . Here is a trick I use if they call me and they say their name , then I go into a speil about Oh how are you dear ?, hows your mother and father ? Is cousin isabelle alright ? You have to talk real fast and they usually hang up instead of saying anything . It is so funny to hear click on the other end LOL !!!

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