Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It Could Happen to Someone You Love


Kathleen Weidner, Director of the Long-term Care Ombudsmen Program, and her father George Weidner, a recent victim of fraud targeted at older adults.

His phone rang early in the morning, and George Weidner hurried to answer it.  He smiled when he heard his grandson say, “Grandpa, it’s Jessie.  How are you?”   George shared with Jessie that he was doing okay – but worried about his upcoming chemo treatments for his advancing cancer.  Jessie expressed his concern.

Then Jessie – in somewhat of a panic – told Grandpa he needed his help and he needed it fast.  He was in Mexico with friends – and he was in jail.  In a pleading voice, Jessie begged his Grandpa to not tell his parents. He was due to come before a judge in a matter of minutes.

Jessie explained: “Grandpa, you know how things are in Mexico.  They told me if I can get them $2,000 in the next 30 minutes they will let me go.  Grandpa, can you please help me?  I am so afraid of what might happen if I don’t get out of here.”

Grandpa’s response was immediate.  Of course he would help his grandson.  He told Jessie not to worry.

In the middle of a Nebraska winter with a storm brewing outside, George Weidner at 87 years old, set out in his golf cart to the nearest Western Union office.  He followed Jessie’s instructions and wired him $2,000.  A call quickly came in from a man with a strong Spanish accent; the transfer had been successful.  Jessie would be freed.

As he climbed back into his golf cart for the ride home, only then did George Weidner start to question what he had just done.  When he got home he made a few phone calls – Jessie wasn’t in Mexico.  Jessie was safe at home.

This “Grandparent Scam” is real and happening all across the nation to unsuspecting seniors.  This true life story happened to the father of Kathleen Weidner, our own Ombudsman Program Director.  Kathleen had this to say about her Dad’s experience: “A financial predator took advantage of a good man’s love and compassion for a family member – and they are doing it all the time.  If this can happen to my Dad – a wise and cautious man – it could happen to anyone.”

For more information how to protect yourself from scams and fraud, check out our Medicare and Financial Fraud video series!


– Tricia Homrighausen
   Communications/Development Manager