Scam: Seniors used as drug mules
By Matilda Charles
Seniors have long been the victims of scams: identity theft, lotteries, fake computer tech support, IRS impersonation, fake charities, home repair, utility sign-ups and more. Now there’s one that’s beyond comprehension — seniors are being conned into being drug mules in foreign countries.
These drug-mule scams usually start online with seniors being enticed by romantic relationships. Once trust is built up, the senior is asked to travel internationally, with the scammers making the arrangements that go through multiple countries. On one leg of the journey, the senior is asked to carry a package or extra piece of luggage.
One such senior, age 77, is a former pastor who never even had a traffic ticket. He’d been involved in an online romance, which was a scam. For years he’d been sending the woman money, to the detriment of his own financial situation. Eventually he was convinced to transport “real estate documents” from South America to London for his online friend. Unbeknownst to him, the weighty packages contained cocaine. He was arrested and sits in a European prison.
According to testimony at a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, 145 seniors have been arrested by foreign governments for trying to smuggle drugs, and 44 of them are still in prison.
If you’re a senior or care for one, especially someone who is cognitively impaired, go online to www.aging.senate.gov/hearings and search for “Do You Know What Is in Your Suitcase?” Read the testimony from senators, the director of Immigrations and Customs, and the son of one senior who is still in prison in a foreign country. If you or a loved one have been the victim of fraud, please contact the anti-fraud hotline at 855-303-9470.
(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.