karenp Asked January 2011

How can I get mom to stop sending money to mail-in sweepstakes? She refuses to believe they are scams!

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Mom is filling out and sending money to sweepstakes in the mail. She insists that "someone has to win" and REFUSES to believe that they are scams. I've tried to reason with her, but it didn't work. I'm terrified. What should I do?that they are scams. I have 1. Tried to reason with her. Didn't work. 2. Went down to the post office and asked to get her mail redirected here (so I could trash the ones she wants to send money to). I did tell her I did it to help cut down on her junk mail.

At the time, she was okay with it. This was only last week. Today she came over my house and said she went to the post office to get it all delivered to her house again.

I am terrified. She used to believe they were scams but now "likes doing it." She has money in the bank and I don't want those predators to take it. What should I do?

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Staffbull18 Apr 1, 2018
My mom is just like this and she is addicted to lottery tickets she also has to have hundreds of dollars in her purse in fact I just went to see her at rehabilitation center and she wanted cash I am like what do you need money for you can’t buy anything and you have an account there that pays for your hair and transportation I said ok I will give you 10 dollars she then says no she doesn’t need it plus with her being there she can’t spend 40 dollars at the dollar store or go get groceries every day which where she spends her cash on lottery tickets I kept asking her if she was still buying tickets and she said no I said you don’t have the money to do it she has always waiting for the big win but my brother told me she was still buying them but I gave her the benefit of the doubt but I was looking for a pen in her purse and I found a stack of tickets and they were not dollar ones I stopped counting at 350 dollars she asked me what was wrong and I asked her why did she lie to me that I found her tickets she said they were old and she didn’t get them checked yet then she was so begged me not to tell my brother she is probably going nuts not being able to buy any then I was doing her bills and I told her that even after she pays her farm insurance she will have 350 dollars left she was adamant that I not pay her farm insurance until later in the month I told her that it’s still going to come out of your account if you pay it now or you pay it later I told her if you pay all your bills at the beginning of the month then you know what you have for the rest of the month she is so bad with money and she has done this all her life she said she needs it in case of an emergency she said that about the 12,000 dollars she had left from my daddy life insurance but she said she paid everything and we told her to pay everything and then you know what you have no she lied and she said she paid my dad’s marker she only paid half and didn’t make a payment until a couple months ago and she only paid 500 dollars and the thing is was there was no interest for the first year well that’s over she is such a control freak sorry for the long response I keep finding those scams in the mail and she told me she wasn’t sending any money I even pulled up one of them on the internet and showed her that it was a scam I also have a question can you still get on a no call list
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partsmom Oct 22, 2017
I was just wondering what would happen if you were to find some old checkbooks from a closed account, and give it to Mom to write checks on. Or open a joint savings account for her main income and transfer a little each month to the checking, and instruct the bank NOT to cash checks on an overdraft. Would incur some fees, but I would think the scammers would take someone whose checks bounce off their lists.
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Lassie Oct 19, 2017
I hope no one SERIOUSLY thinks the gumment is going to do SQUAT about this, today! Taking away our health insurance, womens rights, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and filling up the Grand Canyon with toxic waste are the number one priorities for Captain Sh*tStain and his minions.
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GardenArtist Oct 15, 2017
MonarchMama, some years ago a Senate hearing was held on these scams and how they targeted seniors. A few adult children testified that their parents were lured by the Publisher's Clearing House scams and had rooms full of junk they bought in anticipation of actually winning something.

The hearing was good. Sen. Carl Levin and if I remember correctly, Sen. John Kerry, berated the reps of the scammers (who actually hung their heads down, probably to avoid the cameras as opposed to being ashamed).

I don't recall the disposition, or any legislation that might have resulted. But it was really enjoyable to see Senators publicly rapping the knuckles of the scammers. It was even more enjoyable to see them floundering around trying to justify their nefarious activities.

But I think part of the problem is that other than charges of fraud (and misrepresentation), I don't know how these vultures can be stopped.

The post office makes money from them, and given its own financial situation, probably wants to continue the money it gets.

I do as OldSailor does as he wrote on a literal companion post ( https://www.agingcare.com/questions/Yes-MaMM-Mad-about-Moms-Mail-432345.htm). I send solicitations to redneck organizations, and vice versa, if SASE envelopes are enclosed. If I don't have good solicitations to send, I fill the envelopes with grocery circulars or cutouts from magazines, or labels from canned goods. If I have time, I'll fill the SASEs with the little round punchouts from a 3 ring punch.
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MonarchMama Oct 15, 2017
Regarding asking the government to help protect our seniors from mail scams....it won't happen. In fact, when I pleaded with the local post office they said it was my father's "right" to receive his mail despite my having a POA and him having dementia.
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I'm not sure if anyone ever wins those sweepstakes to be honest with you but there's always someone with their hands out willing to take money from unsuspecting people. An actual sweepstakes shouldn't cost anything, they should be free.

If your mom is competent, I'm not sure there's going to be much you can do as long as she's paying all of her bills in full on time each month. If she's incompetent, then you should go for at least conservatorship and take over all of her financial matters but don't abuse the privilege like so many others do. 

One thing you can do is open up an able account for her. Choose which state to open one and link her bank account. Have a certain amount of money automatically swept over into the able account each month so she has money at the end of each month in case of emergency. The one in Tennessee is free and has no debit card, it's just strictly a savings account, so you can't really swipe the plastic on that particular account. This will help reduce nonsense spending, and there will be money in the account when she really needs something. I wouldn't tell her which state the able account is in, but I would get an out of state one that excepts out-of-state applicants. Yes, hide the money and hide it well! Give her a very small allowance each month since she can't handle money that well but only if this is necessary. Lock up or even dispose of the checkbooks and just go digital like so many people these days are doing. I hardly if ever even write checks anymore and I don't even keep a register book, I ditched paper years ago with the exception that every once a year I must write one check to renew my plate with the BMV but that's it. I can't wait until the BMV starts letting us  just use a debit card to automatically withdraw the money without the worry of a check, it would be better to just go digital on this and ditch the checkbook altogether. Had it not been for this, I wouldn't even have a checkbook because I wouldn't need one. If the BMV will come up to the modern age and just let us give credit card information as opposed to checks or money orders, this will be in favor of many who have gone digital. I don't even carry cash no more, and you'll notice some gas stations that now charge for air, you'd be stuck if you have no cash on you and you need air. That's why I've seen some of the newer machines that actually take credit cards. 

If you take over your mom's financial matters, consider going all digital, it's the best thing you could ever do with your money. Going digital means you're hardly ever find money on the ground anymore because no one carries cash much anymore. I also avoid doing business with cash only places and I never send money into the sweepstakes,  i'm just not dumb and off to fall for that and I used to get them a lot many years ago. I don't know, but it must've been God who kept me from sending in any money because I just never did fall for that crap. No one ever wins I don't think, I very seriously doubt it despite their advertising claiming someone wins but I think it's probably staged. I will definitely take over your mom's financial matters and pull the purse strings hard and tight if I were you because where's all that money when she needs something? In those crooks' pockets! They don't care about her or her needs and she'll have nothing to show for it in the end when she keeps shelling out the money and maybe 10 years later she still hasn't won those sweepstakes she keeps sending money for entries for, and you can't guarantee they actually enter you into those  sweepstakes either! I think what they ought to do is look for people on low income who actually need money, specifically single individuals and just give money to those people or actually if they need something just cover that need with whatever money they have instead of taking money from people or teasing people with money. I think those with money who are well in position to be able to help the less fortunate should do so instead of taking advantage of the poor in order to get even richer until they eventually have all of the world's money. 

Finally, to all of the lawyers out there who specialize in fraud and elder matters and class-action lawsuits: 

I think there should be a class action lawsuit to go after all of these kinds of places and get all of these peoples' money back into their own pockets where it belongs, because where is all that money when these elders start needing something? It's in these crooks pockets and someone needs to get it all back, especially if unsuspecting people sending in these payments happened to be incompetent. I'm pleading with all of you out there but surely someone out there can do something about this and bring it to a screeching halt. There's been class action lawsuit before on other matters, surely someone out there can do something about this! Please, someone do the right thing and stop these types of places from taking advantage of the most vulnerable in our communities 
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Riley2166 Mar 2017
Can you somehow get hold of her mail before she does and get rid of those scam envelopes? What about being a Power of Attorney and you getting the mail, etc. Check with the postal authorities what you can do. And for withdrawals on accounts, I would change things to two signatures required.
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Have her mail redirected to a PO box near you.

Close her checking account. Get hold of and shred the remaining checks.
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OK folks here's the situation. My mom is 94 and lives in a retirement community across the country from me, but close to my brother. In the past few years she has been declining mentally.
She has very little money but she is spending enough of that little to get her overdrawn often.
This is what we have done so far:
--put my niece on her accounts as joint accounts
--moved most of the remaining money into a savings account she doesn't know about
--the staff where she lives is working hard to keep her from sending money off, including trying to intercept her in-coming and out-going mail, and keeping her from buying stamps. They are holding the mail for my brother
--my brother, my husband, and I all have POA
--my brother takes her shopping and keeps her credit card
--when he visits he regularly sweeps her house for mail & throws it out
--I've filed do not mail for caregivers and deceased people for both my mom & dad

But there are signs of addiction and we just don't know what to do. The staff at where she lives says she hangs out in the mail room, so they often can;t grab her mail. She watches for people she doesn't know to buy stamps from. She has stopped recording checks. Sometimes she sends cash to these people. She has also sent blank checks (w4e caught at least one of these).
When we have tried to intervene, she denies she sends any of this stuff out. Several staff people at her facility have told her these are scams and used some of the scare tactics mentioned her, but she says she can tell what's a scam.
Many of the suggestions you folks have made are great and I'll be trying them. But any other ideas? I hate feeling like she's become both paranoid and addictive.
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You probably can't stop them from sending solicitations but you can control mom's money. Control it so that she can't spend any without your okay.
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