Mary (not her real name), an elderly senior
citizen of Platte City, was upset when she first heard
the news that crooked telemarketers had gotten ahold
of her bank number and were stealing money out of her
account. Upset turned to relief, however, when the person
on the other end of the phone said they could help her.
The man, who called himself Carl Watson
from the Financial Outlook Company, said that all he
needed was to verify her account number. He even offered
to put her on the no-call list for
a small fee to prevent any other unsavory telemarketers
from calling her. She was happy to hear that she could
be helped because only the day before she had placed
a large deposit into her account. She readily turned
over her account and credit card numbers.
Mary was getting scammed, and her daughter
She is from a different generation,
she said. They believe when someone tells you
something, they are genuine and honest and they want
to help you. (The scammers) sold her a bill of goods
and she felt they had her best interests at heart.
Luckily, Mary confided in her daughter
and told her what had happened. The daughter sprung
into action, canceling her credit card and switching
her mothers savings over to a new bank account.
Despite the inconvenience of having to do these things,
the family was happy that the crisis appeared to be
But it wasnt.
The man started calling back; why did
she cancel her account? Didnt she know that he
was only trying to help? The man became angry with Mary,
demanding the new number. Soon after, a thickly-accented
woman started to call her, asking for her account numbers.
Frightened, Mary and her daughter turned to the Platte
City police, providing them with a call back number
Carl had given them.
Knowing that the situation would create
havoc on the victim, Platte City Police
Chief Joe McHale investigated the matter and learned
that the calls were originating from somewhere in either
upstate New York or the Canadian border. Unfortunately,
in crimes such as these, perpetrated on local citizens
from faraway places, the best Platte City can do is
warn their constituents to never give personal information
over the phone unless they are sure they are dealing
with someone they know and trust.
For Mary, it hasnt been easy. She
has trouble sleeping at night, ruminating over the problem.
Fearing financial ruin, every time the phone rings she
begins to worry.
It just upsets her so much,
her daughter said. Shes worried sick.
In the end, Mary had to change her phone
number, in and unto itself a loss of some measure. She
had used the same number for almost a half century,
but because of Carl Watson, she had to change
it, paying $41 in the process. Now she keeps a piece
of paper with her phone number on it, taped to the phone
receiver, just to remind her of it. True to form, and
bloodthirsty for her money, the telemarketers called
her right up until the morning the number was finally
Mary may have learned her lesson, but
each year nearly one out of six people in America fall
victim to telemarketing scams according the Department
of Justice. Nearly 80 percent of those victimized are
senior citizens, who lose an estimated $40 billion per
year due to fraud money that could be spent on
their enjoyment, healthcare, nursing services or passed
on to future generations.
The American Association of Retired Persons
recommends that people get return mailing addresses
and phone numbers or ask for information through the
mail before taking any telemarketing call seriously.
Others just recommend that people simply hang up the
In a moment of playful reflection, Marys
daughter offered her idea for a solution.
I'd like to knock these guys into
their next lives.