When you spend any amount of time talking to someone in law enforcement about phone and computer scams, one thing becomes abundantly clear: senior citizens have a bulls-eye on their backs as a scammer's preferred targets.

My widowed dad began getting all sorts of suspicious calls after my mom passed away. Up until her death, my mom was the gate-keeper of their house, and nobody trying to get cash from them ever got past her on the phone (or the door, for that matter).

My dad, however, proved to be a much softer touch. Before I knew it, there were all sorts of invoices for things showing up in the mail. Things that my dad either didn't remember agreeing to, or things that he thought were legitimate. Many hundreds of dollars (and hours spent on the phone) later, I finally managed to turn off the money spigot--but not before the harsh words between dad and I as he tried to hide his embarrassment at being taken advantage of by scam artists, and his anger over my lectures on the dangers of scammers.

I happened to be watching 23WIFR News the other night, and saw their story on 90 year old Marvin Ostenson. Marvin got scammed out of over $18,000 because he was trying to get his grandson out of trouble--or so he thought.

From the 23WIFR News report:

Marvin Ostenson says he drained his life savings and took out two cash advances on two separate credit cards to pay what though would clear his grandson's record, after the scammers told him his grandson was headed to jail following an alcohol-related crash. He was told to send the money through the mail to an address in South Carolina, where his grandson was allegedly being held. Ostenson says the callers told him he would receive all of his money back a few days later.

You can probably guess the rest. His grandson wasn't in trouble, and Marvin's not going to be getting his money back. But, to add further insult to financial injury:

Ostenson says he spoke with police in South Carolina, as well as with the credit union he got the money from. He was told, because he took the money out of willingly took out the money, he was not covered under fraud protection.

One of the scams my dad nearly fell for involved something that popped up on his computer. Luckily, I happened to be nearby, or he probably would have been taken by this trick, like so many other people have, not just seniors.

What the guy in the video below is dealing with is very similar to what almost happened to my dad: