Suspicious health alert calls target seniors

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by Janet Roach

WVEC.com

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:48 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH --  When April Smith of Virginia Beach got an offer for free medical alert equipment, she knew it was too good to be true. But the message on her answering machine was clear:  The American Heart Association and the Diabetes Association were encouraging senior citizens to take the offer.

The caller identified himself as being from the American Senior Benefits program. All the call recipient had to do was press "one" and he or she would be connected to a technician to get signed up.

Smith called police to warn them before innocent seniors fell victim and gave away critical personal information over the phone.

"Once they get your social security number, they can do anything," says Smith.

The American Senior Benefits Program, based in Kansas, is particularly upset about this scheme because the president of the group says their name is being used fraudulently. James Sweeney says the phone is ringing off the hook from people wanting the free offer.

"We feel victimized as well. Our name is being tarnished and we're getting constant phone calls. I spoke to one woman who is threatening to sue me and I'm like, 'Ma'am, how can I explain this is not us?'" says a very frustrated Sweeney.

There's an alert on the home page of the American Senior Benefits program website explaining the problem. The organization is working with state and federal authorities to try to get the calls to stop, but so far, no one knows where they're coming from.

Even though the calls are being made to people in several states, the caller ID displays numbers local to whomever is being targeted. Smith's calls show that they were made from Hampton, Virginia. The number is 757-251-9409.

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association is making it clear that it is not involved in the scheme at all and did not authorize anyone to use its name for such a purpose.
 
Seniors who receive the calls are asked to ignore them. They can report them to the Attorney General's office.  Click here for a link to his website.  They can also contact the office of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau.

 


 

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