Elder Scammers: How to Spot Them and Send Them “Fuck Off”

  • Scammers capable of posing as lawyers, gas operators or even a close family member to entangle the most vulnerable

Juan and Marcos They are very similar scammers, but they are not the same. Marcos does not mind entangling grandmothers posing as a nephew who has not seen for a long time and, under that only credible lie through the filter of senility, convincing the woman to lend him money because he is in a supposed hurry. Juan does care. He does not like to entangle such vulnerable people. Juan and Marcos are the two fictitious scammers that appear in the Argentine film ‘Nine Queens’ (Fabián Bielinsky, 2000) and who embody Gaston Pauls and Ricardo Darin. But the unscrupulous scammers who harass older people are real. And there are many ‘frames’. Increasingly. To send them “Fuck it & rdquor; as did a victim of Girona The one they wanted to cheat and realized the deception, it is convenient to know how they act, to know what tricks they use.

The false gas operators

They are presented in pairs at the home of the elderly who live alone. They pretend to be gas company workers, with fraudulent credentials. While one distracts the victim in front of the boiler, the other is absent, arguing that he must check the radiators and, instead of doing that task, he removes the drawers in search of jewelry, bank records, watches or cash. Or whatever you find. In its most cruel version, the workers have come to ask for cash after the ‘reparations’ under the threat of cutting off the supply to victims suffering from diseases as serious as Alzheimer’s. When in doubt, he advises Araceli, agent attached to Central proximity group of the Mossos d’EsquadraYou have to call the company, or 112, and you do not have to pay anything in cash. If possible, another adult should be present when the review occurs. In 2019, 96 scams by false reviewers were reported in Catalonia, in 2021 186 have already been reported. It is a modality on the rise.


The last known strategy is to call elderly people served by telecare services. “They contact them and tell them that they are from the company and that now they must pay more money or they ask for bank details or they ask for their address to come and check the caller –with the aim of stealing objects such as false operators– & rdquor ;, he explains agent Araceli. The Catalan police reported this scam last Friday through a statement. It was the victims who sounded the alarm because the scammers used a more aggressive tone of voice than that of regular workers and that made them suspicious. The Mossos believe that they have not yet entangled anyone in Catalonia but are aware that it is a widespread modality in other autonomous communities and to which the elderly and their environment must be attentive.

The false lawyer

Scammers do a preliminary investigation, especially online, and find out the name of the victim’s relatives. Then they make the call. This is how a neighbor from Girona rebuilds it, who suffered them recently. “It was a guy who said he was a lawyer, and that my son had suffered an accident, that it was his fault and that there were serious injuries, that as soon as I hung up the police would call me right away. So it was: I hung up and another man called me saying that he was contacting me on behalf of the police about the accident. They wanted me to give them cash to avoid jail for my son but I had to give it to them right away because otherwise there would be no agreement. They made me so dizzy that, in the end, I realized that they were entangling me and I yelled at them to fuck off and hung up the phone & rdquor ;. His son was fine, there was no accident.

The callers were scammers who, as the woman says, pose as lawyers. They scare the elderly to death by assuring them that a loved one has just caused a fatal accident and that if they do not immediately give money – 3,000 or 5,000 or 15,000 euros or more – to a person who will come to pick them up from their home – and accompany them to the bank, if necessary – the relative will go to jail. The Mossos remind that no early payment could avoid prison in a hypothetical similar case and they call people who suffer calls of this type to remain calm, hang up the phone and get in touch with the relative cited by the scammers. It sure will be fine. The cases of people who have lost their lifetime savings to this trap are more than it might seem.

‘Mancheros’ or ‘mimosinas’

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Halfway between theft and fraud, the ‘mancheros’ and the ‘mimosinas’ also have the elderly in their sights. The former hang around bank branches when retirees tend to withdraw their pension. They approach them when they leave the ATM and throw ketchup or syrup – without their noticing it – and then offer to clean the stain by showing a handkerchief. During that contact, they seize the wallet. The second, the ‘mimosinas’, move through the high areas and pounce on elderly men whom they claim to know. They give them hugs, even kisses. And meanwhile they try to keep watches or purses. Often times, this struggle escalates if the victim realizes or resists and the theft turns into a violent robbery.

The Mossos meet with entities such as ‘Friends of the Elderly’ or with groups such as petanque associations to give them advice to detect and protect themselves. “We go where they are and we give them advice so that they can defend themselves & rdquor ;, explains agent Araceli, who stresses that many of these crimes continue to go unreported because the elderly are ashamed of having been fooled. Should not. As in the movie, the ‘Marcos’ know very well what they do and to whom they do it.


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