CLEVELAND - Debbie Bennett and her family know what it’s like to be the victims of a con artist; and they weren’t the ones being taken. The Bennetts' 82-year-old mother came close to losing everything she had in 2014 when she fell for a lottery scam. A man on the other end of the phone told her she needed to pay fees and taxes before she could claim her millions of dollars in winnings.
“She was getting behind in bills, lights was getting cut off, her gas, her water,” said Bennett.
The elderly woman nearly lost her home to foreclosure. Bennett said she wouldn’t listen to reason when the family told her she was being conned by the man who wouldn’t stop calling and demanding money.
“It was very stressful, very stressful,” said Bennett.
She does wonder if her mother would have listened to reason if she’d heard similar stories from other people who’d been targeted by the same scam.
“They need something like that, they need something cause people need to be aware of what’s going on,” she told Call For Action Reporter Lorrie Taylor.
The kind of testimony Bennett was talking about is the kind of feedback consumers can now find and share on the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.
“The best defense against becoming the victim of a scam is to be an educated consumer, to know the warning signs so you aren't vulnerable, said Sue McConnell from the Cleveland Better Business Bureau.
McConnell said consumers can search by a date range or by key words, like lottery, IRS or taxes.
“You can see what’s going on in the area and it could be a scam that you’ve never heard of,” said McConnell.
Bennett said she and the family were able to pitch in and get her mother caught up on her bills. Their next move will be to log on to the BBB’s Scam Tracker so they can stay up on the latest con games; she said the phone won’t stop ringing at her mother’s house.
“They’re good at calling the first of the month,” said Bennett, referring to the criminals who won’t stop hounding her elderly mother for money.