In recent months the Justice Department, U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have increased law enforcement efforts against numerous criminals operating mass mailing fraud schemes from around the world. Often these schemes have specifically targeted elderly Americans. In once case, Daniel Arnold was convicted in federal court in New York of being the middleman for many of these mail fraud scams through his efforts to obtain and provide mailing lists of people to be targeted through these various mail scams. One of the more colorful scams in which he was involved started with the victim receiving a letter purportedly from a famous psychic. In the letter, the targeted victim would be told that he or she was receiving this letter because the psychic had had a vision in which the victim was going to receive a large sum of money through a lottery or some other means. The letters would then lure the victims into purchasing various products and services associated with the psychic to ensure that the foreseen good fortune would occur. Of course, the entire matter was a scam.
Scammers have long maintained “sucker lists” of victims of their scams which people such as Daniel Arnold sell to other scammers with the often accurate expectation that people who have fallen for one scam will fall for another. In some instances, the scammers will even pose as some authority offering to help the victim of a previous scam obtain his or her money back. Unfortunately, the scammers never get any money for the victims, but merely victimize them again.
In other instances, scammers will purchase lists of potential victims through various legitimate data brokers and others who maintain extensive lists of people used by legitimate businesses.
Letters, email or telephone calls from psychics either offering good fortune or the ending of bad fortune are common scams.  The positive psychic scams occur when the psychic promises to share a secret with you that will bring you fame and fortune.  Often the psychic offers to sell you a special good luck charm that is guaranteed to bring you good fortune.    The negative psychic scam occurs when you are told that you are in danger from a demonic force and that if you do not send money to the psychic to ward off the threatening force, something terrible will happen to you. If you want to believe in psychics, it is your business, but when you receive an unsolicited email, letter or telephone call from someone claiming to be a psychic, it doesn’t take a psychic to predict it is a scam.
The elderly are often targeted in these type of scams and one way to reduce the vulnerability of elderly relatives to this scam is to get their names and contact information off of as many data sources as possible. Here is a link to information from the World Privacy Forum with additional links to assist you in removing your name from a wide range of lists including those of the Direct Marketing Association which will stop numerous solicitations including those for credit cards and insurance. Also there are links to allow you to opt out of information sharing of data brokers and many others.
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