Senior scammers: See something, say something

Jim Porter

Solano Real Estate Scene: Jim Porter

Article By: Jim Porter – October 27, 2023

Seniors continue to get scammed across the country. A few months ago, this sweet widow with a cheery Irish brogue called my office to get a $30,000 loan. We confirmed with her over the phone during our customary 20-minute phone interview that her home was free and clear, her $8,000 monthly income was a combination of her deceased husband’s military pension, Social Security and investment income from her accounts at LPL Financial at Travis Credit Union.

When my business partner and daughter, Lisa Porter, asked for the purpose of the loan, bells and alarms went off and she brought this case to my attention so I could talk to this wonderful 82-year-old gal.

After just a few minutes, I could smell a rat because she told me her boyfriend needed her to wire money to him for a car he was going to bring to her from Australia. This guy had been talking to, let’s call her Mrs. Doubtfire, for six months, four or five times per week but she had never met him. I believe she had already wired him a bunch of money.

She told me that she suspected foul play but like many, never called the police or the authorities and sadly has no adult children or grandchildren. I told her that I would call the elder abuse department at the Solano County District Attorney’s Office and her certified financial advisor at LPL-Travis CU, and she had no objection.

Today, another woman came to my office for a home improvement loan, and like Mrs. Doubtfire, she is a widow living in her free-and-clear Vacaville home on a modest income. This Japanese American has been here since 1963 and has owned her home for 40-plus years.

Public records show her home was placed in a trust by her and her husband 10 years ago, before he died. This woman drove by herself to our office yesterday and met with Lisa and then came back today to meet with me. She was dressed impeccably, using a walking cane, but appeared to be in great shape physically. This little lady looked like she could have been a fashion model at some point in her life, a short one, but you get me, elegant and beautiful.

During my meeting, she admitted to me that she was having some memory issues lately. We had her scheduled for tomorrow at 11 a.m. because she thought her hairdresser appointment was today. She showed up today at 11 a.m. and apologized for the mix-up. She told us she had $5,000 in the bank and the home repair estimate she gave us from an unlicensed handyman was $38,000.

I asked her why she only wanted a loan for $8,000. She had no answer. This woman had a daughter that died 20-plus years ago at only 42 and now has no blood relatives to protect her. I kept digging for names of possible financial advisers and then she gave me the name of a man that she called trustee with a local 707 area code phone number.

Thankfully, I called this man, and he told me he was the trustee of her revocable trust. I assume this retired accountant was assigned by the authorities to protect this woman’s house and what’s left of her estate. He told me that this petite, trusting widow had already been scammed out of $300,000 by a Publisher Clearing House scammer.

Seniors are vulnerable targets. If you see something or hear something, say something.

Jim Porter, NMLS No. 276412, is the branch manager of Solano Mortgage, NMLS No. 1515497, a division of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation, NMLS No. 1850, licensed in California by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the CRMLA / Equal Housing Opportunity. Jim can be reached at 707-449-4777.

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