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Between late 2018 and early 2019, men began incessantly calling Robert Tobey’s landline phone, said his daughter Alissa Tobey-Johnson. By the time she and her family realized her father was being scammed, he had already lost thousands of dollars. “They were telling him they needed help. And he thought they were friends,” said Tobey-Johnson. “It blew my mind and broke my heart.”Tobey, who lives in Connecticut, had been diagnosed with early stage dementia. Tobey-Johnson said her father wasn’t aware the scammers were manipulating him. He willingly gave them his Social Security number, and they re-routed his monthly $1,200 deposits to a different bank account. Over the phone, scammers pushed him to buy gift cards from Walmart, which he sent by mail to addresses in Texas and Washington state. Tobey also sent scammers Walmart-to-Walmart money transfers. “We’re estimating between the Social Security fraud, money wires and gift cards, he lost at least $5,000,” said Tobey-Johnson.

Far from being the only person scammed

Tobey is far from being the only person being scammed. According to the National Council on Aging, five million older Americans are victimized yearly with an annual loss of $36.5 billion.While the most common financial scams include government impersonation scams, sweepstakes scams, and robocall scams, Barnstable Police Detective Sgt. Kevin Connolly said scams also come in the form of friendly conversational phone calls, emails, and text. “Once they get these victims on the phone, they sink their hooks into them and fleece them of everything they’ve worked for their entire lives,” said Connolly.

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