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?

Answers 1 to 10 of 157
Has your mother always been unstable with money or is this a new thing? If it's new, then she's got mental problems would be my guess. Gotta take control of the money somehow if she's showing signs of dementia. If her mental health is okay, at least as far as the dementia/alzheimers thing goes, then if you told her that doctors are going to think she IS mentally ill, and put her in a 'home' what would she say? However SOMEONE does have to win the lotteries etc. but the chances are like, getting struck by lightning while sitting on an iceberg at the North Pole.
She was never unstable with money. This is a new thing. In one of my previous posts I had written that I took mom for a 3 hour intensive dementia assessment. They said she does not have dementia. She has mild cognitive impairment.

If I told her that I was going to tell the doctors about this, she would get angry with me for "threatening" her.

If it were lotteries, e.g. state lotteries where you buy the ticket at 7-eleven etc or even the scratch offs I agree that someone has to win because those are legit. However, she is entering into sweepstakes which come in the mail. Those are sent from companies which may not even exist. All it takes is a printer, an address, a stamp, and a catchy headline. "you are guaranteed to be a winner of at least TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS." ...Just send us $19.95 so we can expedite your check...And she does send the money. Any fool could sit in his bedroom, buy a mailing list and start racking in the profits. Lotteries are strictly regulated by the state. Sweepstakes entries which come in the mail aren't.

My fear is that she will keep sending money to them and the amount they ask for will keep increasing in lieu of "winning" more money. I have watched many heartbreaking stories on the news, Dateline etc of the elderly being ripped off and losing their life savings. I am trying to stop that from happening to my mother. All they need is one of her checks and then they have the routing number and account number to do what they want. It's so scary.

And yes, the chances of winning a legit lottery are remote. And that's for the legitimate lottery. Imagine the odds for the sweepstakes which come in the mail. I'd say closer to non-existent!
That's how my mother-in-law started. She had her home and car payed for she got so in debt before dementia set in she refinanced the house and car. My husband and I ended up having to move in with her to keep her from being out on in the streetor in a facility. And beleivie it wasn't easy. She would still slip money in the mail past up and then forget sending it and accuse us of stealing it. Once we moved in we found out serious the problem was their was scamers calling her all day for money. In one year she had sent out over $25,000. You're so right to try to catch her mail. After she stops repling it eases up some in a couple of years. But they know they are elderly and they target the ones they think have no to stop it. Good luck and God bless.
My mother was always telling us when we were little to avoid scams and there is "no such thing as a free lunch." However, I noticed recently that she asks me questions such as "I got a call about a sweepstakes, do you think its real?" If you had told me that my Mom would even give these scams a moment's notice, I wouldn't have believed it. Mom does not have dementia and her mind is sharper than mine. I think it is a matter of lonliness or that these companies both give them attention and offer something fun and exciting. Of course they are scams. I have talked to Mom at great length about hanging up on these guys and tossing solicitations in the garbage, but I have to gurantee that she would do it.
The only way you can guarantee that your Mom will not respond to these scams is to take over her finances with a financial Power of Attorney. This way you could monitor her accounts and stop checks if need be. I would hate to see her hard earned money go to these rats. These companies have profiles of their "clients" and target those over 60. There ought to be a hot rock in hell wating for all of 'em.
Does your Mom understand that she is jeopardizing her future if she throws away all of her money? There are very few good housing options even if you are wealthy.
If that does not scare her then you need to take charge before this escalates.
good luck
Lilli
Top Answer
KAREN:

You tried reasoning, the dementia assessment, intercepting her mail. Nothing worked. ... Reminds me of people addicted to something they don't want to give up (e.g. gambling).

It's obvious she doesn't know -- or doesn't care about -- the difference between legitimate sweepstakes and scams. So let's educate her with the Federal Trade Commission's tips for consumers to keep in mind before responding to an "It's Your Lucky Day" call or letter:

(1) Legitimate sweepstakes don't require you to pay or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning, or to pay "taxes" or "shipping and handling charges" in advance to get your prize;

(2) Sponsors of legitimate contests identify themselves prominently; fraudulent promoters are more likely to downplay their identities. Legitimate promoters also provide you with an address or toll-free phone numbers so you can ask that your name be removed from their mailing or calling list; and

(3) It's highly unlikely that you've won a "big" prize if your notification was mailed by bulk rate. Check the postmark on the envelope or postcard. Also be suspicious of telemarketers who say you've won a contest you can't remember entering.

Other than these tips, I don't know what else to suggest except show my support by screaming with you out the window. But with my luck and the neighbors I have here in the Bronx, I'm sure someone will call 911 or Animal Control. ... And I just might win a trip to the nearest psych ward ... which I'll definitely have to pay for.

Wish you the best my friend, and don't be a stranger.

-- ED



I have a slightly different take on this only because I don't know the details of how much she is spending on products in order to get into these supposed sweepstakes. I like what Ed wrote, and showing her that info would be very useful to her. If she still insists on doing it, however, and as long as you can see that she is spending a relatively small amount (hopefully) of her own money, then maybe it's a harmless interest of hers until she gets fed up with not winning and stops on her own. Good luck.
One thought -- you know you're not getting through. Maybe someone else would get through. A friend, neighbor, minister... a whole group of people, like a mini-intervention but it looks like a coffee klatsch. You're talking about exerting influence, and that's always stronger coming from multiple sources.
My dad's been doing the same thing. (I also posted suggestions on what to do long ago.) It got so bad my mom had our home telephone number (the # they've had for 40+ years) changed to unlisted. Worked for a little while. Until he started sending checks again which include their phone number.

When I was home I intercepted a few calls, told them I'd let my father know he called and "forgot" about it.

They started using official government agency names like the FDC and another one that I've forgotten. Of course I left messages with the agencies and never heard back from them. I had already filled out their online forms and never heard back from those either. I thought that since I had their phone numbers and since they were using real government agencies to try to swindle money from seniors they might be a little more apt to get the info from me and do something. Nope.

My mom tries to take all of the sweepstakes mail as soon as it comes in but she's not always successful. Sending the mail to a PO Box isn't an option. He would get very upset and my mom wouldn't want to go some place to pick up the mail every day.

I'm stuck too. Our bank was helpful with holding off on getting his checks to him. But again he would get upset if he thought they were keeping things from him.

They cover themselves by "awarding" enough "winning" entries with $3.99 & $5.99 checks to keep from being shut down. Even when my dad sees that he still thinks he's going to win more eventually. There's no reasoning with him.

I wish I could help you. But I don't have any answers for us either. If I ever find out anything I'll be posting to help everyone else out. Other than going to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica or where ever they are and beating the crap out of them I don't know what to do. That's at the top of my list right now.
My brother experienced similar things with a man he was caring for. He solved the problem by stopping mail delivery to that address. Instead, he had every piece of his friend's mail sent to his own address. My brother would then go through the man's mail, throw out such junk and hand carry 'proper' mail to his friend. It almost always wasn't important to open any letters as it was easy to determine the type from the envelope. My brother saved the man's bank account and surely headed off the further passing of his name and address to others who would send the same type of junk.

V
Contact each solicitor and request she be taken off the mailing list. This can be done via internet, or phone. It's a hassle, but better to have to deal with it now before she gets herself in trouble..

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