Wed, 22 Aug, 2018
Phone scammers steal $100,000 from widow two days after husband’s death
An 81-year-old widow has been swindled of $100,000 by scammers just two days after her husband passed away.
The scam first started in June, when Christine “Kitty” Hansen received a call saying that she won a competition.
The widow from North Dakota in the US told WDAY that she feels foolish, saying that they “caught her at a bad time”.
“I got a phone call and the guy said he was from Publisher’s Clearing House, and that I’ve won $2.6 million and I’ve been entering their contests for years, so I didn’t think anything about it,” Mrs Hansen told the news outlet.
However, Ms Hansen was told that she could not receive her prize money until she paid taxes on it.
Over the following weeks, she was instructed to send seven boxes of cash to various addresses.
Ms Hansen’s family believes the thieves targeted her after seeing her husband’s obituary shared online.
They believe the 81-year-old didn’t tell them about the calls because she was being intimidated by the thieves, with the crooks claiming the Internal Revenue Service would take away her home if she didn’t make the tax payments.
“She would never have spent money like that, they’re preying on her when she’s not even thinking straight,” the widow’s daughter Renee Anderson said.
“They also coached her on what to say, because the bank tried several times to help her.”
According to the GoFundMe page set up by Ms Hansen’s family, the widow did not only lose her life savings, but she was also convinced to take cash advances on credit cards, leaving her in debt.
Although there is not much hope in recovering the entire amount that was stolen, the family started the fundraiser to help Ms Hansen pay off her debt.
Renee said the scam taught them to make sure children of elderly parents are listed on their bank accounts.
If Renee’s name was on her bank account, the bank would’ve been allowed to call her when they suspected fraudulent activity.
Renee also highlighted the painful lesson the family have learnt from the experience: “Do not send cash, ever, to anyone.”