Sophisticated scams provide numerous markers within them that are presented in a professional and credible manner – but are in the end, a sham. These con artists are trying to gain the trust of the target that they are who they say they are. The con artists that participate directly solicit people that are vulnerable, and these types of techniques are used constantly on elderly adults as a form of elder abuse. Phone, email and web scams target everyone and anyone. The most common target and victim of these con artists are the vulnerable and elderly adults. It doesn’t just apply to the elderly though – some con-artist attempted to scam us not that long ago. What does that say about the vulnerability of elderly adults that answer the phone to a well-versed fraudulent call?

The Scam

The Probate Pro received a phone call from someone who purported to be calling on behalf of Detroit Energy (DTE). The so-called representative stated that the check for the energy bill – although paid and sent by the firm – was not received. The individual requested that the firm should call back the (800) number provided in order to make arrangements for the payment of the bill. When dialing the number provided by the scammer, the exact pre-recorded message played on the telephone line, as if the call went through to the genuine DTE.

When pressing a number as instructed, an operator answered the phone, knowing what company is called from a simple Google search. The operator then notifies the caller that they have a payment that must be fulfilled. Next, they advised us to pay the bill in the form of cash to a local kiosk in the area that serves DTE. However, rather than being run by DTE, the kiosk is actually a Bitcoin kiosk. If money was deposited, it would instantly be sent overseas to the scammer and disappear. Voila! A seemingly perfect scam. If this were to have happened to an elderly, vulnerable adult, this would be considered elder abuse.

What Can I Do To Prevent These Scams?

When these calls occur, or you are concerned with the possibility that they may occur, there are multiple things you can do.

  1. If you think you have been contacted by a fraudulent scammer, you should contact the police or proper legal authorities that can identify and address the situation.
  2. In an effort to prevent this from happening, you can put blocks on phone calls, emails, etc., so that hoax callers are unable to get through to the vulnerable individual, whether it be yourself or a friend or relative. Often times, scammers repeat their targets, believing that if their plan succeeded once, it will succeed again. So be sure to continue to take precautionary measures if you or a loved one has already been scammed.
  3. Continue to protect and screen emails or telephone calls of the vulnerable individual you are concerned about. As a family member, guardian, or conservator, you may have the responsibility of playing defense on behalf of another individual.
  4. In the event of a con, you can Adult Protective Services. They will often get involved when a con is being perpetrated by a family member, friend, or care provider. These types of cons occur equally as rampantly as scams organized by strangers, and are just as dangerous.

If you have questions regarding elder abuse or scam callers, we are ready to share other techniques that we have used to protect the vulnerable against these dangerous circumstances. Contact us via or give us a call at 1(833) PROBATE.