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Scam artist preying on citys elderly
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Darlene Archer has a message for seniors in Manteca. Beware of “a gentleman out there” calling and asking you for your Medicare number.

“He was very clever. He didn’t ask for my Social Security Number. He asked for my Medicare number. Well, your Medicare number is your Social Security number,” said the longtime Manteca resident who is active in a number of community groups including the Veterans of Foreign Wars 6311 Auxiliary.

Archer said the man, who introduced himself as Raymond Mardin on the phone, called her Friday of last week and again on Monday. The man even gave Archer his telephone number, which turned out to be a bogus 800 number.

“He was trying to say he’s got a free electric wheelchair that’s very light, folds up and goes into your (car) trunk and yada, yada, yada. He was trying to be very clever about getting your weight and a few different things about you. And then he said, ‘all I need here to get you in my file so I can get your case started is your Medicare number,” Archer said.

“I kept telling him I was not interested, that I got along just fine. But I pretended like I was going somewhere and said, ‘I tell you what, give me your name and your phone number and I’ll call you back.’”

And he did.

But she did not call him back. He was the one who called her back. This time, he was asking her for her birth date.

Archer told him, “I don’t know who you are and you have no reason to get my birth date so please don’t call me back.” Then she hung up. And he never called back.

But less than an hour after she hung up the phone, she found out that her friend and neighbor down the street had also received a similar phone call from a man offering a free electric wheelchair but that he needed to have their Social Security Number and other personal data like her birth date.

Fortunately, her friend Barbara did not buy what the stranger was selling on the phone either.

Archer then called the police to report what happened. The police told her it’s a scam, “and they said there was nothing they can do about it.”

But she decided to call the newspaper “in case there might be somebody out there who might give their Social Security or Medicare number,” Archer said.

“How many elderly people might be there that this guy calls and could be caught off guard because he didn’t say Social Security Number and just might open up to him? That really worries me because so many people are gullible. Some people might think about giving their Medicare number without even thinking it’s their Social Security Number. I’m past that (being gullible); you’re not going to do that to me. But I don’t want to see this happen to any else. I just want to help,” said Archer who is the VFW Auxiliary secretary.

How to avoid
fraud and scams

According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, con artists are smart, extremely persuasive, and aggressive. They invade your home through the telephone and the mail, advertise in reputable newspapers and magazines, and even come to your door. Most people think they are too smart to fall for a scam. However, con artists rob all kinds of people – from investment counselors and doctors to teen-agers and elderly widows of billions of dollars every year. It’s up to you to say no. Use common sense and learn about old and new scams.

Here are some quick tips from the Sheriff’s Office to avoid becoming another victim:

•Be wary of the following – high-pressure sales, demands for ‘cash only,” pressure for quick decisions, secret deals, and no-risk high-yield investments.

•If you believe that someone is attempting to defraud you, report it to your local law enforcement agency immediately.

•Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.