Telemarketing fraud has become a $40 billion industry, and more than half the victims are senior citizens, a former investigator with the Washington Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday.
Doug Shadel, now an educator with the American Association of Retired Persons’ Seattle office, said retirees are targeted because they are easily contacted at their homes, have money and, most importantly, are trusting.
Once they have been scammed, he added, victims will be subjected to more bogus offers and charity requests from con artists trying to separate them from their money.
“They’re just shameless,” said Shadel, who earlier this year helped “ABC Primetime” set up a dummy boiler room where solicitors were taped dunning seniors and others for cash.
Shadel is one of three speakers who will be at the West Central Community Center Friday in an AARP-sponsored forum, “Your Road to Financial Security.”
He said he will show the Primetime segment as well as other video and audio tapes of con artists caught in the act. Some will feature interviews with victims.
Shadel said Washington is recognized as one of the state’s most aggressive in combating consumer fraud. But during his 10 years with the Attorney General’s Office, he said, investigators caught up with only a very few of the many swindlers preying on state residents.
“These people are always a step ahead,” he said.
Shadel said two favorite rip-offs are charity solicitations by fund-raisers who take more than half of the money bound for legitimate causes, and “sweepstakes” offers that require small upfront fees to secure the prize.
The prizes are fictitious, and the fees disappear.
Besides Shadel, Friday’s speakers are Andy Landis and Jo Senters.
Landis is a former field representative of the Social Security Administration who speaks and writes on retirement planning issues.
His talk is entitled “Double Your Savings in Five Years: Putting Your Money to Work.”
Senters, administrator of AARP’s “Money after 50” and “Women’s Financial Information” programs, will discuss “Five Habits of Highly Effective Retirees.”
The meeting is free.