Scammers Prey On The Elderly

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The envelope looks official. It is highlighted with a bright yellow label that covers the majority of the brown paper-sack like envelope. It came in yesterday’s mail. I picked it up at the Dripping Springs Post Office. There is a green star in the upper left hand corner of the yellow label next to the words in capital letters: “WINNERS SELECTION LIST NOTICE”. Those words are circled in red. Does it sound familiar? Let me guess: “You got one too?” The envelope is from the Publishers Clearing House in Port Washington, NY.

 

There is a notation on the envelope: “Open immediately and respond as instructed.” Of course, I have an easy out. The envelope is not addressed to me. It is addressed to the General and she is out of town. The last time I checked, it was illegal to intentionally open someone else’s mail. While I don’t think for a moment that the General would opt to have me prosecuted, you really can never be certain. You know what they say about the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I figure my days are numbered.

 

For one thing, when it comes to my persecution (oops, I think I meant prosecution – I guess in this case, it could go either way), the General would much prefer to handle that in person rather than outsource it to the U.S. Government. They mess up enough stuff on their own. If it comes to persecution or prosecution, she’d want it done right. You know what they say, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” That is a mantra the General holds close to her heart.   Secondly, the penalty for intentionally opening someone else’s mail is only up to 3-years incarceration. If the General opted to do away with me, 3-years would not even be a good start.

 

The General left town on Tuesday and took the grandchildren with her. Of course, I was out of town on Tuesday night and Wednesday, but did I mention it is uncannily quiet here? Condolences aren’t necessary or needed. I’m actually doing okay. Of course, I really miss the kids! Besides that, now that I’m back home, only God knows how many things I’ve left undone without the General here to provide oversight, structure and support. I purposely left out “orders” because I don’t want anyone to think for a minute that I’m henpecked.

 

I had the privilege of having lunch on Wednesday while I was in Houston in the home of the friend of a mutual friend. I met her thirty-plus-years-ago and looked forward to the visit. I actually crashed a luncheon party the mutual friend had been invited to attend. At any rate, the lady mentioned that her daughter is a little bossy when it comes to telling her what to do. She said, “My sons will support whatever I want to do. It isn’t like that with my daughter. She tells me what to do.” Thinking I was one step ahead, I asked: “And who does she get that from?” Knowing full well she’d answer, “She’s just like me”.   That’s what I thought she’d say, but I was wrong. She said, “I know who she gets it from. She is just like her father. He always tells me what to do.” I guess you could say, “We all have our crosses to bear.”

 

Getting back to the Publisher’s Clearing House’s “List of prizes”, I’m not holding my breath that the General will come out a winner. On the other hand, she’s got me. Maybe her luck will hold out. I’d tell her not to quit her day job, but it is way too late to play that card. When it comes to retirement, it is now old school for her. She wouldn’t trade it for anything. She is in her element.

 

I read somewhere the other day, that the crime of the 21st Century is financial scams targeting seniors. Gullible, too trusting and cognitively unaware are three terms that could possibly reflect the frame of reference into which my peer group often falls.

 

Self-preservation and the desire for longevity of life are two of the variables I hold close to my heart. Consequently, I haven’t yet suggested to the General that she needs to be careful. One of the risks facing seniors is the number of fraudulent anti-aging products that people her age are most vulnerable to order on-line. I’ve seen those small brown boxes that come to our mailbox. They aren’t addressed to me. I have no idea what’s inside, but one day I may forget and ask. If that happens: “God help us both”. On the other hand, she looks easily fifteen years younger than me, so I don’t guess I get a vote.

 

I’ve also discovered that older people should never answer their home telephone. My experience is that it is never anyone that I know. It is either someone calling to ask for a contribution or someone calling under the pretense of helping you out. Just yesterday on two separate occasions, some thoughtful person called to tell me the extended warranty on my Lexus had expired. If I acted now, I could have it re-instated.  They then added, “And, by the way, this will be the last time you hear from us. It is now or never.”

 

There obviously is a credibility issue with their messaging. I received a second call wanting me to extend the warranty within twenty minutes of hearing “We won’t call again”.

 

One of the things I learned from my dad is: “If it sounds too good to be true, It probably isn’t.” That certainly was my take on the 3-month option of someone helping me market my books. Since there were no guarantees associated to the offer, I thought of the lyrics in George Strait’s song: “Oceanfront Property”.

 

“I got some ocean front property in Arizona.

From my front porch you can see the sea.

I got some ocean front property in Arizona.

If you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the golden gate in free”.

 

Most folks that read my blog on Facebook, never see comments that are added to WordPress. First I have to say under the concept of full disclosure, it is rare that anyone comments on WordPress. Yesterday, Wayne Terry, a dear friend from the first grade thoughtfully responded. Since his response was thoughtfully insightful, I thought I’d close today’s blog with his comments. They reflect the Wisdom of Solomon:

 

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”. (Matthew 10:16)

“Donnie,

Sadly the world is full of wolves who prey upon the hopes and dreams artists and writers have for success in the work they have put their hearts and souls into.

When they want money up front…….run.

They promise wealth and fame, but deliver dust and disappointment.

These wolves may be using new technologies, but are running scams as old as the hills.

 

When the hills were much younger than they are now God came into the Wilderness and told Moses to build the Tabernacle.

In Exodus 35 and 36 we are told God told Moses to send for a man named Bezalel to create all of the furnishings and utensils that would go into the Tabernacle. Scripture tells us Bezalel was an artist, a man with skills, talents, abilities and knowledge in many crafts. God had equipped this man for a purpose and now The Master Creator will do something for him not ever done before.

 

Before Bezalel will start, The Lord will fill, this man of the arts, with God’s Spirit. He will overflow with it for the task at hand.

God gifted Bezalel for a purpose, to do what God called him to do. To use his gifts in a God directed way.

 

Over half a lifetime ago God showed me the talent He had given me was for more than just making money or personal satisfaction.

When God called Moses to the work He had for him, God put a stick in his hand as an “attention getter”. It would open doors, minds and hearts to God’s will.

God put a stick called a paintbrush in my hand. An “attention getter” that God has used to opened doors, that otherwise would not have been to draw a crowd and open the way for me to tell them about the Lord. The paintings and drawings have caused people to pay attention to what God would have me say and lives have been changed by using what He put in my hand.

 

Talent coupled with the Spirit is a mighty thing that will do what talent alone can’t.

God has even used ink drawings I have “messed up” for His purpose.

 

The Lord has put a “writing Stick” in your hand for a purpose. He filled you with the Holy Spirit a long time ago.

You did good work today.

You and your church did Good in the creek Sunday.

Watch out for the wolves.

Wayne”

 

What a thoughtful and insightful response. Solomon couldn’t have expressed it better.

 

All My Best!

Don

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