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Elderly parents

Spam lottery letters

2 replies

mrsmobbs · 23/06/2013 20:43

Long one I'm afraid. My FI is obsessed with letters from abroad saying he has won this or that lottery and has been writing cheques by the bucket load to these people, we have all explained that unless you enter a lottery you can't possibly win. My 14 year old DS has shown him, on the Internet about it, my DH has told him as has both my SIn mum was so upset as they were 350 overdrawn and there are completed cheque books with filled in stubs in a drawer. He is a stubborn old bugger and will not stop. It is his money and up to him but I am worried about my mi if he gets them into debt. Any ideas how we can stop these letters being sent as we cannot intercept his mail, although we have taken some when we visit which is not a nice thing to do. Not sure what we do at the bank either. Any ideas please

OP posts:
whataboutbob · 24/06/2013 13:31

Hi Mrs Mobbs, Needmoresleep may be along soon with some very good advice. A while ago she put in a link to a charity called Think Jessica started by someone whose mother was scammed out of thousands. They may have good advice. It sounds like he wants to keep on being deluded so you as a family may need to take action. Good luck.

Needmoresleep · 27/06/2013 15:45

I was away for a few days. Not sure if I am an expert, but Spam was a problem I faced.

As far as i can see these fall into 4 types

  1. Lottery scams like you have

2. TV and satellite "protection"
3. Expensive mail order offering prize draws like Gourmet Delights or Vital Nature
4. Recognised charities who seem to target elderly people and play on guilt by including free pens, personalised Christmas cards etc.

Organisations based in Britain should accept the mail equivalent of the Telephone preference service and not send junk mail to people who dont want it. However if your dad has failed to tick the right box his personal details can have been sold on...and on.

It is very hard to stop post from organisations based overseas. The Royal Mail has a legal duty to deliver post addressed to an individual.

On all the various threads I suspect the point for a relative to intervene is when an elderly parent's behaviour is no longer safe. In this case perhaps because he is jeopardising his and your mother's financial security. But stepping in and controlling the behaviour of an proud and independent parent is horrid. You can come out the other end. I have. But the middle bit was awful.

First it is worth thinking of any other evidence that your dad is losing capacity. Driving, inability to remember things, repetition, hoarding, fairure to maintain their home, etc. Alzheimers Society or equivalent will have a list of symptoms of early dementia.

In my case I was very worried about my mums failure to file tax returns. However once I came to clear her flat I discovered lots of other things I should have been worried about, including huge quantities of junk mail.

If there is cause for concern the best thing would be to persuade your dad to see his GP for a memory check. There are some amazing drugs now which can slow memory decline so the sooner the diagnosis the more memory can be preserved. If problems show up, you will have the support of health professionals on things like driving and setting up a POA.

Of course it wont be that easy. If you are worried, and believe me once these crooks realise they have easy prey they will increase their demands, it is probably worth having a word with his bank. Best is to speak to the branch manager if he has one who knows him. Banks obviously cant give you any details of his finance but my experience was that good branch managers are supportive of those trying to help their more vulnerable customers and able to give advice. They can also check on the movements on his account.

Bank call centres may well refuse to talk to you. You may be better off calling their fraud people directly. I would follow up any call in writing.

If they are concerned, they might:
  1. call the police if they feel fraud is involved. The police could then call to see your dad which would shake him up and perhaps encourage him to stop.

2. Perhaps decide that he is no longer capable of managing his own financial affairs. This is a bit of a nuclear option, but banks are worried about being sued. You warn them that he is vulnerable, they check and see that they have the evidence to suggest that this is the case, and then they may feel they need to withdraw his cheque book.

I did not go down the second route, but got to know of the process when one bank threatened belatedly to freeze some of my mums accounts on this basis. Since it was the week before she needed to complete on the purchase of her sheltered flat I was not amused and counter threatened to launch a formal complaint about the poor products they had sold her at a point when she pretty obviously did not have the capacity to understand. The upshot was that they held off till the purchase was complete and I then closed those accounts.

The Alzheimers Society help line (no you dont need to have any diagnosis) and your local consumer advice service may have further ideas.

The problem I faced was mainly TV protection companies. My letter did the trick and all stopped the contracts and some even gave me some money back. Happy to give anyone a draft. They however were UK based companies.
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