I feel my father is being scammed. What can I do?

Buddy1968 asked...

My father hands out money to a man who does odd jobs for him. This man has been in jail many times and now knows he can get money from Dad and never show up to work. Over the last four weeks he gave him $1800.00 to "fix" the roof. But of course he never has. Is there anything we can do?

Expert Answer

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

I am sorry to hear that your father has been victimized.  So many elders, who feel a little sad and lonely, become easy prey for con men.  My own father once bought a con man an old pick up truck by charging it to his credit card.

As it was with my father, this event is a signal.  Your father is not feeling good about himself.    Our parents need  protection.    Many do not want it.    How can you give your father the security he needs withough robbing him of his dignity?

  • If you have siblings, talk with them about your concerns. Siblings should be included in any activitiy concerning the finances of your parents.
  • Go over his daily scedule.  Write it down.  See what is missing. from his life. Are his faculties dimming?  Is he bored?  Is he grieving? Has his pride been diminished?
  • Is there some way that you can surrond your father with more support?  Can the family get together for dinner on a regular basis?.
  •  Is it possible to find another helper who is trustworthy?  Does your father need someone to run errands with him?  Or go for a walk or morning coffee?
  • Is it pssible with love and tenderness to ask your father if you could help with his finances?
  • Don't expect that he will be happy. Some elders feel that their children want to get control of their money and put them in an institution. 
  • Go slow.  Be patient.   Drop a suggestion and then pull back.   Let it soak in.
  • Take your father for lunch or for a drive or just relax together watching a program and sharing a cup of coffee with a piece of cake. 
  • Later, you can tell him,  "Dad, I don't want anyone to take your money. Can I start helping to pay your bills?" Or, Can my brother do it?    Or can we get a bookkeeper? Do you need a family trust?  There are so many things, power of attorney, will, advanced directive.
  • Dont  give up.    Your father needs your help. Go slow.  Be caring. Develop patience.  We don't have to pay for our dignity.  It is right there in our communication.
  • Last but not least----this scam should be reported to the police.  Also check to see if there are agencies that deal with elder abuse.   The Chamber of Commerce should know about this scam in your community, and the senior center would also appreciate knowing about scams that particularly target older adults.