Overland Park woman warns of scam targeting elderly after losing nearly $300,000

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Helen Jordan wants to make sure no one ever falls the scam that cost her nearly $300,000.

“We saved all our lives, my husband and I didn’t take vacations we just put money away,” the 90-year-old said.

She was living alone at her Overland Park home after her husband’s death when she got a phone a call from an alleged gaming commissioner who said she’d won $500,000. There was just one catch: She’d have to pay the taxes on her winnings first.

“I was so taken up with that that I didn’t even question. I didn’t even know about scam,” Jordan said.

Jordan was told the payments were to be made in what turned out to be a series of wire transfers.

“It was kind of weird, but it still didn’t dawn on me it had to go to the Philippines,” she said.

“She knew when she called me that it had gone wrong,” her grandson Kevin Zeller said.

Not only did the scammer liquidate her retirement account. He also got her to take out a home equity loan on her house that was paid off.

“I’m upset with myself because I wasn’t picking up on anything,” Jordan said. “I know I’m old, but I should have known better.”

Connie Haworth, executive director of Senior Star at Villa Venture where Jordan lives now, said her staff are trained on common scams and what to listen for among residents.

“It’s hard for them to come forward, so they just continue with it, hoping that it’s the real thing,” Haworth said.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt testified 1 in 10 seniors will be victims of scams of abuse.

Jordan’s grandson wishes the family would have discussed finances earlier.

“Our regret was not being more forward knowing the environment and the amount of scams that are out there and people praying on elderly. We didn’t talk about it,” Zeller said.

Businesses can also play a role in thwarting scams. In Jordan’s case, she wishes her financial adviser or the company she used to withdraw the funds would have asked her more questions about her intentions for the money.

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