Call 11 For Action: Local woman scammed out of life savings - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Call 11 For Action: Local woman scammed out of life savings

(Toledo News Now) -

Scammers preying on the elderly are nothing new, but an elaborate scheme to take advantage of a local woman is particularly disturbing. The scammer in this case took advantage of the woman's deteriorating health -- and in turn, her life savings.

Catherine Mulkey reached out to investigative reporter Jenna Lee hoping to put a stop to the scam, which started with phone calls made to her mother, Ruth Mulkey, in her Perrysburg home.

For the past two years, Ruth has answered every call, and the scammers' every request to send hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Convinced by elaborate lies on the other end of the line, Mulkey wrote checks for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.

Daughter Catherine describes the stories: "One was she had a nephew she never knew anything about. Another about the daughter she miscarried," Ruth was lead to believe she was alive and "running a missionary orphanage in Jamaica." The scammers preyed on the kindness of this woman, a senior citizen, who failed to recognize she was being lied to. 

The results were disastrous. 

"She's maxed out all of her credit cards, her CDs and her entire checks," Catherine says. "She's given them more than $150,000." 

The countless bank withdrawals and money orders led to late bills, unfilled prescriptions and even skipped meals. "If we wouldn't have stepped in when we did, she'd probably lose her house." 

Ruth is currently drowning in debt because of the phone scam that originated from area codes 8-0-0 and 8-6-7. The names of the callers even turned up on Facebook, all with a Jamaican address. But what can be done to stop them, or even bring them to justice?

The Toledo police department's public information officer says he receives a call every week about elder fraud. 

The Mulkey family submitted police reports, called credit card companies and filed consumer complaints with the Ohio Attorney General's office, but little can be done. "They're called 'conmen' for a reason. They're really good at what they do," said Sgt. Joe Heffernan, PIO.

The key to cutting them off is awareness, which is why the Mulkey family wanted to go public with their story. "I want something done. It's got to be put out there. The only way we're going to get out of this is to file for bankruptcy." 

Now Catherine answers the constant, ringing nuisance while her 89 year old mother resides in a nearby nursing home. 

"I understand you wanted me to mail you some money? Where did you want me to send the money?" asked Mulkey, playing along. But all along she wonders how many others are believing what they hear on the other end of the line.

The FBI says the elderly are being swindled out of nearly $3 billion from international scammers every year. Learn how you can help your loved ones avoid falling victim by clicking here.

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