A breach of trust | March 9, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - March 9, 2012

A breach of trust

Fraud schemes cost Palo Altans millions of dollars each year

by Sue Dremann

Ann Griffiths answered the phone on a Tuesday last year and was greeted by a somewhat familiar voice.

This story contains 3277 words.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.


Posted by blame Facebook, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2012 at 9:35 am

Facebook makes it far too easy for crooks to get the personal information that they need for these identity theft crimes. Why doesn't Facebook make their privacy settings more rigorous? Instead, Facebook is constantly loosening security and privacy, making identity theft even easier. Facebook treats their users like merchandise for sale, not like customers to treat fairly.

Posted by George, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm

> Thus began a harrowing journey for Griffiths,
> who was taken in by a common scam that preys
> on grandparents' hearts. In the end, Griffiths, 77,
> lost $11,000, she said.

I think that before I called Western Union, I would call my child (my grandchild’s parent) and ask:

1) Is xxx in [where-ever]?
2) Has he/she called you about being in trouble with the police over a drugs charge?

Then, depending on the answers, I’d turn the matter over to my child, and help financially as the situation calls for. Bypassing the parent in matters like this is a very bad idea, and certainly ended up costing this lady a lot of money as a result.

Posted by mutti, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm

My mother -- age 85 -- got a call like this. She was suspicious, because the claim about being arrested for being drunk was so out of character for her grandson. So she asked the caller for the name of her first husband, knowing that her grandson knew that very well. It was very easy to figure out quickly that this caller was not a relative. It just takes a little scepticism. Maybe she was aware of this kind of thing because it had only been a few months since she "Sent" an e-mail to all her friends saying she was stuck in Wales and needed money to get home. It was sent at 6 a.m on a Monday morning. Her friends who had seen her at church on Sunday morning called her to ask what was up. Her Gmail account password had been hacked.

Posted by Stanley, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Mar 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I'm sorry to hear about these scams targeted at seniors. And it's sad that even kins do the same to their elders. Just see what money can do to one relationship to the other.

I've received a few scam calls myself and I know that anybody can be a victim but I believe it's a little harsher for seniors. There's just vulnerable and easily depressed. Besides, the money they have is probably their life's savings and when lost, it'd be difficult to replace or earn again. I have read several cases reported at Web Link and they never stop to disgust me.

Posted by ncphif, a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

As a nonprofit, it is our mission to educate homeowners on how to avoid becoming victims of contractor scams. Before you begin a home repair or home improvement project, please visit preventcontractorfraud.org for FREE and valuable information on how to deal with contractors. Don't become a victim!!