NewsProblem Solvers


Local family warns of check fraud scheme targeting senior citizens

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 18:03:29-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- When Crystal Jackson learned her parents were targeted for money, she thought it was important to spread the word about schemes aimed at senior citizens. So she contacted the FOX 17 Problem Solvers to do just that.

"He would call, hang the phone up and call right back," 88-year-old Nellie Applewhite said.

Applewhite and her 93-year-old husband have had enough with the phone calls. They said the person on the other end of the line claimed he wanted to give them millions of dollars.

"Sometimes we would get as high as 20 calls a day," Applewhite said.

She said the calls came from Ohio. First, they asked for the couple's banking information. They refused to give it and were sent two checks via priority mail. Both checks were worth $5,000 each. Applewhite said the caller told her to cash them and then send him $2,000. But she knew better.

She said, "It is a scam because why would you even mail... spend $23.75 [on priority mail]? You didn't even tell me you was sending me two checks, and I'm supposed to get excited over $10,000?"

The couple's daughter, Crystal Jackson said, "Had I not come here [to their home] I wouldn't have found out that it was happening."

Jackson said she had a conversation with the caller herself.

"Basically, he was saying that they would win the $2.5 million. They would get a Mercedes Benz vehicle," Jackson recalled.

While her folks are sharp, Jackson stresses the importance of staying aware of what older loved ones are doing.

"You keep up with your family. Every time you hear of a scam... spread that news to your family, and they can spread it to their friends and family and so there won't be a lot of people that are caught up in these scams," she said.

The Problem Solvers spoke with the Better Business Bureau to learn exactly how the scheme works. If the Applewhite's had deposited the checks, the couple would then gain access to that cash. Then the couple would send a portion of that to the imposter.

The BBB said checks have up until 90 days to bounce. Once the check bounces, the Applewhites would be on the hook for the bad checks. In the meantime, the imposter would've already received compensation.