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The scams to the elderly at the door of his house: "They told my mother that she either paid or they hurt her children"


Highlights: Criminal groups look for the elderly in their homes to deceive them and obtain thousands of euros. Scams include selling encyclopedias, checking gas or buying articulated beds. The Ministry of the Interior has long detected that the elderly are a favorite target of criminals. The Greater Security Plan aimed at preventing specific threats against this group is aimed at the victims themselves and at caregivers and relatives to detect possible dangers. "Stealing is always wrong, but also doing it to the weakest is inhumane," says the affected.

Criminal groups look for the elderly in their homes to deceive them and obtain thousands of euros with scams such as selling encyclopedias, checking gas or buying articulated beds

When those two burly men knocked on her door and demanded a check in a bad way, it was the moment when the 86-year-old woman burst out and called her daughter. The lady had been trying for months to cancel a supposed subscription to buy encyclopedias at home without saying anything to her family. These alleged booksellers made her sign again and again botched documents in which she promised to pay crazy figures on the condition that she be removed from their list of clients. When her daughter went home after that desperate call, she and her brothers began to discover the ordeal of threats and deception that the widowed woman who lived alone in her apartment in Madrid had lived. "We found some certificates, went down to the bank and started to find out about the whole mess. Then we took her to the doctor and there she said that they had threatened to report her to the police or harm her children if she did not pay, "summarizes Victoria, the daughter. In total, they had scammed the lady, who is now 92 years old, 40,000 euros in two months.

"For my parents, having an encyclopedia was something very valuable, something that they paid in installments and that my mother would read on the couch. It's something of a generation that couldn't have all the books it wanted," says Victoria. The criminal network arrested for the scam of his mother took advantage of databases of companies in which some of its members had worked, according to police investigations, to identify their victims. "She is dumb and a buyer," read the notes of the organization that the agents intervened. 13 of the members of this organization came to trial last month for defrauding 185,000 euros from a dozen victims.

The family of this victim also laments the lack of cooperation of banks. The day the old woman called them frightened by the threatening tone of the alleged sellers, they went to the cashier to check what was happening. When they realized, they called the bank and an operator told them that they could only block the account with numerical codes from electronic banking or wait and do it in person. "You will tell me, if my mother with 86 years is going to have those codes. It was a holiday and the branches were closed, so we could not block the account until several days later, in which they took advantage to make more transfers, "laments the woman.

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For this victim, this network took advantage of that "limbo" in which older people live in which they still want to be independent, but their faculties begin to fail. "Stealing is always wrong, but also doing it to the weakest is inhumane," says the affected. When they searched his mother's house for all those ridiculous certificates to give as evidence to police investigators, they also learned that his father's wedding ring and the bracelets he had given his wife for every child they had had had disappeared. The Ministry of the Interior has long detected that the elderly are a favorite target of criminals, which is why there is the Greater Security Plan aimed at preventing specific threats against this group. It is not only aimed at the victims themselves, but also at caregivers and relatives to detect possible dangers.

The modus operandi of this organization is very similar to that of others that have been arrested in recent months. Despite the fact that all alerts now fall on phone scams, door-to-door scammers continue to employ the methods of a lifetime to make a profit. On the same day that the trial against the encyclopedia plot began, the police arrested eight people in Madrid accused of deceiving elderly people with alleged revisions of the articulated beds they had recently acquired.

The key piece of the network was a former worker of the furniture company for the elderly who, after being fired, had stolen the list of customers to go to their homes under the pretext of checking the beds and selling them new products. They communicated a price, but then, when using the dataphone, they charged a much higher one. The agents believe that they defrauded more than 80,000 euros to about thirty affected. In this case, "the investigations began when a lady reported because she realized a charge of more than 4,000 euros in her account, when she believed she had paid 300 euros for the false review," police said in a press release. As in the encyclopedia scam, the network had created false invoices with the letterhead of a non-existent company and had even enabled a telephone that victims could call to ask questions and thus not arouse their suspicions.

False reviews

False gas, water or electricity reviews are also a classic of these more or less structured organizations. In 2022, the police arrested in Puente de Vallecas two men who posed as workers of an electricity company and who accessed the homes of the elderly under the pretext of changing the installation and reimbursing them because they had been overpaying. Police sources explain that the detainees approached the victims in the portal, accompanied them home, and asked for the jewelry alleging security reasons. In addition, they asked them to sit with their feet up to avoid cramps while they did the review and, when they had ransacked the house, they asked for the pin of the card to make the supposed return of money, which obviously never arrived.

Rafael Abati, a lawyer in the case of encyclopedias, emphasizes that these judicial processes are often complex because it is necessary to demonstrate the role played by each of the members in the organization and prove before a judge that the elders signed those coerced checks. "In addition, the testimony of the victims in these cases is vital, but their memory also begins to fail. The feeling of guilt and shame is mixed...", says the lawyer. In this process, the Prosecutor's Office requests for some of the accused up to seven years in prison for fraud, falsification of documents and belonging to a criminal organization.

In one of the sessions of the trial of the encyclopedias attended by Victoria and her sister, one of the defendants suffered a drop in tension. His sister, a doctor and daughter of one of his victims, attended him until medical services arrived. "He also did it with tremendous humanity and professionalism," says his sister. At the exit of the Provincial Court, another of the defendants came to thank them for their attention, to which Victoria replied: "Let's see if this makes you think, that the weak must be taken care of." And the two sisters walked down the stairs of the courthouse, "proud of our ethics."

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-06-07

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