Woman says elderly mother-in-law was scammed out of hundreds by sham solicitors

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Midlothian mom Kathy says the past few weeks have been extremely difficult.

Her family is dealing with the grief of losing her mother in law. Add to that, feelings of helplessness because of some financial decisions her loved one made that didn't make sense to them at all.

For example: signing a nearly $1200 contract for replacement windows to her home. Kathy's mother in law died before the installation began.

"She put down under $600 for a 50percent deposit. We were really shocked she put so much down for replacement windows given her state of health," Kathy explained. She also said she didn't believe her mother in law needed new windows.

She says the family didn't receive the deposit back, but the company forgave the balance. Kathy was concerned that her mother in law, who was meticulous about keeping records didn't have a hard copy of the contract for the window installation.

She was also concerned that when the company emailed her a copy, she discovered that her mother in law had initialed areas agreeing to perform certain tasks that she physically could not have completed. For instance, moving heavy furniture eight feet away from the windows and removing window treatments.

The window purchase wasn't the only purchase that gave Kathy and her family concerns. She said the almost daily solicitations prompted her mother in law to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars that she really didn't have to spend.

"She was getting dozens of catalogs that came daily and there were collectible companies soliciting her for money. They would say you have a credit and you can use it to purchase a piece of jewelry for, say $29.99 leading to believe you are getting a deal. Some of the charities were no better. They would send her t-shirts and tote bags and then there would be something asking her to donate. We found boxes and boxes of these in her home. There were collectibles, coins, figurines. Some, we have been able to send back. Others we couldn't," Kathy said.

The Chesterfield woman asked Problem Solvers to share her story to raise awareness. She wants to encourage those with elderly loved ones to stay involved and connected.

Barry Moore with the Better Business Bureau agrees.

He explained that the ones who are purposely targeting elderly customers to get their money prey on their loneliness.

Moore says once the criminals call the elderly victim they know how to cozy up to them, earn their trust and then use that leverage to sell them items they likely don't need and sometimes won't ever see.

Kathy and Mr. Moore say despite how awkward or difficult it may seem, families with elderly loved ones must ask questions and get a good look at the financial picture. So, they can stay ahead of the criminals.

"Talk to them about what their income is. Find out what their expenses area and see if they are logical, like food and things that are necessary for life," Kathy added.

Moore says criminals don’t care what neighborhood, city or town they hit. As soon as they get money from one elderly person, they’re on to the next victim.

He says families should report the incidents to local police, the Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau so they can note the crime, hopefully catch the criminals and alert the public.

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