Consumer Advocacy

Mom is aging and needs lots of care but has limited resources.

The family is looking for a way to cut her unneeded expenses while meeting her needs. One expense that families consider cutting is a life insurance policy. After all, most of us purchase life insurance to pay for living expenses of a family, children’s college or to pay-off the house following the death

Beautiful senior couple in the park

of the insured. Often a senior has grown children and a paid off mortgage and a family with sufficient resources. Therefore, the temptation is to stop paying the life insurance premiums. What many families fail to realize is that the life insurance can be converted into a life care plan specifically designed to pay the costs of care for their loved one.

How it works:

The policy owner transfers ownership to Life Care Funding who creates a fund to pay for the care of the individual. Money is held in a FDIC insured bank. Every month the nursing home, assisted living center, home healthcare provider or others providing medically necessary services or supplies are paid as directed.
Benefits:

• Provide federally tax-free fund to pay for covered expenses
• Eliminates the expense of life insurance premiums
• Prevents forfeiture of life insurance investment
• Can delay need to apply for government benefits
• Provides family with flexibility to adjust the care to meet their loved one’s needs

Part of Your Long Term Care Planning:
The importance of this as a tool cannot be overstated. Some use this strategy as part of their Medicaid or Veterans Wartime Pension planning.
The Internal Revenue Code Section 7702B(b) provides special exemptions for sales of life insurance policies insuring the lives of individuals who are terminally ill or chronically ill. In the case of a terminally ill insured, the proceeds from the sale of the policy will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax regardless of how the proceeds are used. And, if the insured is chronically ill, the proceeds will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax so long as they are used solely to pay for qualified long-term care services.

Please call 405.340.6554 to find out if this is right for you. Or Complete An Application

Have More Questions:  See Life Care Funding Questions & Answers Page

Click Here for Workshop Schedule

Please note that the actual tax treatment of the proceeds from the sale of a life insurance policy will depend on many factors, including but not limited to who owns the policy, the health of the insured, the use of proceeds, the size of the estate and the state in which the policy owner lives (for purposes of state taxation).  This material does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice, and neither Winblad Law PLLC nor any of its attorneys, agents, employees, or representatives are in the business of offering such advice.  The information above cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any IRS penalty.  Anyone interested in selling a life insurance policy in order to fund Long Term Care Benefits should seek professional advice based on his or her particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

Education is not Discrimination, Banks should do more to Educate their Depositors about the various Scams

FBI fraud alert flyer001Con-artists use various schemes to part bank customers with their money.  These include:

  • Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
  • Grandpa I’m in Jail Fraud
  • Internet purchaser scam
  • Secret shopper Scam

Some confidence games trick individuals, often the elderly, to send money.  They may believe that they are paying taxes or fees in advance.

Sometimes a grandchild is impersonated with a plea to send money to get them out of a foreign jail or to cover travel expenses after supposedly being robbed.

Other scams involve an alleged agreement to purchase an item from an online site or newspaper advertisement.  The seller is sent a check for more then the purchase price and asked to wire back the difference.

Other rip-offs involve hiring the victim to be a secret shopper or to help processing transactions.  They are sent funds but later discover that the check or money order was bogus.

The FBI developed a poster that they encourage financial institutions to display in their lobbies.

Below is a questionnaire that may help seniors identify and avoid these financial crimes.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

This questionnaire is a service to you as part of our ongoing effort to educate our valued customers concerning financial fraud.

You are being asked to provide responses to this questionnaire because criminals often seek to have money wired or sent to them. Once money is wired it is almost impossible to recover. Therefore please answer the following questions fully and truthfully to decrease the chance that you will be a victim of a scam. This form is only a tool to help identify fraud risk factors. Any significant transactions should be reviewed by a Certified Public Accountant or an Attorney.

 

 

1Is the purpose of this transaction related to a lottery, prize or sweepstakes?ˉ Yesˉ No
2Is this transaction requested by someone who is in jail, prison, or detained?ˉ Yesˉ No
3Were you instructed to mislead the bank regarding the purpose of the transaction or to tell the bank a false reason for the wire or withdraw?ˉ Yesˉ No
4Were you told to deposit a check then send part of those funds to someone?ˉ Yesˉ No
5Were you told to not discuss this transaction with family, trusted friends, or trusted advisers?ˉ Yesˉ No
6Were you told that there was a tight deadline and that the funds had to be sent immediately?ˉ Yesˉ No
7Were you told that the money is being sent to pay taxes or fees?ˉ Yesˉ No
8Were you threatened or are you suspicious that you may be the victim of a fraud or a scam?ˉ Yesˉ No
9Do you understand that once money is wired that it is almost impossible stop the transaction and if the money is sent for a fraud that the bank is not responsible for your loss?ˉ Yesˉ No
10Have you personally met the person receiving the money?ˉ Yesˉ No

 

_________________________                                  _______

Customer Signature                                                      Date

Are you a potential victim of fraud?

Yes to #1. There are several schemes which involve a con-artist informing a victim that they have money ready to be received but they must pay a fee, tax or money before the prize, lottery or sweepstakes can be delivered.   The customer should be advised that such arrangements are not required and that the money sent will be lost.

Yes to #2.   One common scheme is for a person pretending to be a grandchild or relative to call and claim to be held in jail and need to have a fine or bail posted. Although they may sound convincing these calls are almost always a scam. The person calling claims to be the relative, an attorney or a law enforcement official. Fines, bail or fees are not paid by wire transfers. Often victims learn that their relative was never in trouble. Usually a call to the relative or their family will reveal that there is no legal emergency.

Yes to # 3. Financial institutions are becoming increasingly aware of these types of frauds. Therefore, the criminals often ask the victims to misrepresent the reason that funds are being withdrawn or wired. Victims are told to tell financial institutions that the funds are being used to pay taxes, for a vacation, to remodel a home, or to help a family member.

 

Yes to # 4. There are several frauds that involve the receipt of a wire, check, money order or cashiers check. The victim is asked to confirm or deposit the funds then wire or send cashiers checks to another party. The victim is subjected to pressure to conclude the transaction quickly. Often the items deposited are convincing documents. However, these deposit turns out to be bogus and the victim may lose money or be responsible for overdrafts. The scheme often takes the form of an overpayment. For example, the target is told that they want to purchase a vehicle for $10,000 but only have a $15,000 cashier’s check. They ask the victim to deposit the $15,000 send them $5,000 and promise the pick up the car or merchandise later. The victim sends the $5,000 but the $15,000 turns out to be fake causing a loss. Sometimes the criminal asks the victim to assist in a foreign transaction and asks them to deposit a check that turns out to be bogus. In the meanwhile the victim has withdrawn and wired money to the criminals. The victim is likely responsible for losses or overdrafts.

Yes to # 5. Criminals know that concealment is important for the fraud to succeed. Often con-artists tell the victim that the transactions are confidential, secret, or should be concealed from family members. They may suggest that family members should be surprised with the windfall. Other times the scammers may suggest that you have participated in an illegal activity and that disclosure would result in criminal prosecution. A trusted professional such as a lawyer or accountant should be consulted to determine if a transaction is legitimate.

Yes to # 6. One tactic that criminals use is to insist that transaction be conducted immediately. Con-artists want to prevent the victim from seeking advice. Any substantial transaction should be studied before completing.

Yes to # 7. Individuals do not generally pay fees or taxes by wire transfers. Legitimate fees and taxes generally require forms and clear explanation of the liability. Victims are often mislead into sending money without proper documentation. Once sent the funds are almost certainly lost.

Yes to # 8. A customer should never send money due to a threat. If the customer is suspicious about the transaction further steps should be taken to determine its validity. The customer should be counseled to consult trusted advisers to verify the legitimacy of the business deal.

No to # 9. Customers often do not understand that once money is wired or sent that it is almost impossible to stop the transaction. Customers often assume that if they contest the validity of a transaction that the financial intuition will be required to restore the funds. Many fail to understand the difference between a credit card purchase and a wire transfer. Wire transactions have very few protections for the sender. Generally speaking once funds are sent they cannot be retrieved.

No to # 10. Incredibly, many victims’ dealings involve only telephone calls, letters, text messages or email exchanges. There are many schemes that involve individuals sending money on the promise that they will be able to return merchandise or cancel the deal. Some involve so-call Craigslist scams where someone promises that money will be held by an escrow agent which will be returned if the car or merchandise does not meet the buyer’s satisfaction. Most of these transactions are bogus.

 

What would you do if you received an official looking that informed you that you won $8.75 million dollars?  What if the letter had a copy of a cashier’s check written to you?

Don’t be fooled.  The lottery scam begins with a bold announcement.  Victims are contacted by telephone, email or mail.  (A sample of a letter is provided below).  The pitch is convincing.  The con artists are polished and will pretend to be bank officers, IRS employees, law enforcement and company officials.  There are numerous variations of the scam and they generally take on several phases which may be as follows:

Phase 1:  The Hook

The initial pitch will go something like this:

We are so very pleased to inform you that you have won the XYZ Lottery.  We have $8.75 million ready to disburse to you.  We just need to have you pay the taxes so that the funds can be sent. …

The victim is instructed that before the prize can be collected that taxes must be paid. Various methods of transferring the money are used.  Here are a few of them:

  • Use a money wiring company to send the taxes.  Once the money is sent by this method the criminals can pick up the money anywhere.
  • Wire money from your bank.  Again, once money is sent it is almost impossible to recover.  Typically the recipient will immediately withdraw all of the money from their account.
  • Send cashier’s checks.  They may be told that the person is a transfer agent or official who insures that the money will be held in trust.
  • Purchase prepaid credit cards and send them the card information.
  • Send cash in envelopes.

Legitimate sweepstakes do not require winners to pay any taxes, fees or costs in advance.   If a victim falls for an initial scam another fee, charge or tax is sure to follow.  They will apologize for forgetting a fee, charge, another tax or other reason to send more money.  It is not unusual for victims to repeatedly send money.

Criminal Busted! A rare victory.

Short advertisement.

The Boost:

On rare occasions the criminals may return some money only to keep their prey playing along.  A return of a small portion of the money lost can help regain credibility of the swindlers.  One incident involved a victim who had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the charlatans.  The crooks sent the target first-class tickets to Spain.  The gentleman was taken to a room with piles of money and told he would take as much as he wanted.  He took a couple of thousand and was told how the money would be “invested” to claim the winnings.  He returned to the United States and sent the bad guys hundreds of thousands more.

Phase 2:  So Sorry, But We Can Help

Once the victim refuses to cooperate by sending more money the con artists may change tactics.  Sometimes a new “representative” will be assigned to fix the problem. The new fraudster will explain that certain fees or taxes were missed.  At other time law enforcement officers will be impersonated.  The fake cops may ask for money to pay costs or may encourage the victim to cooperate with the new representative.  These criminals have been known to use the names of real police officials then set up a telephone number which appeared to be a local number.  A technique known as caller id and location spoofing.  The criminal can create an account that provides a false area code or caller id.

Again, the fraud involves convincing the victim that the money previously lost can be recovered.

Phase 3:  Blackmail, Threats and Intimidation

If the victim steadfastly refuses to send additional funds the con artists may pretend to be law enforcement and threaten to arrest if he refuses to cooperate.  They may claim that a warrant has been issued for their arrest but they can post bail to avoid going to jail.  There may be a threat of turning the victim over to the authorities unless demands for payment are made.  There may be threats of violence against the target as the CBS news story shows.

Phase 4:  Account Takeover and Identity Theft

People who fall into the traps of these thieves often find their bank accounts taken over.  The villains are not shy about stealing from bank accounts, diverting social security payments or identity theft.  With information they obtain it is easy to impersonate their prey.

How to fight back.

  • Knowledge, be wary of any transaction with strangers. Seek legal advice from a trusted attorney or financial advice from a certified public accountant.
  • Change telephone numbers, this may seem difficult but it is one of the most effective ways to prevent contact.  But remember, never call any number to check on “refund” or “winnings”.  Crooks may call neighbors or family members in order to get in touch with their targets.
  • Work with banks and credit card companies to change compromised telephone number.
  • If you experience telemarketing fraud of any type, report it online to the FTC or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

 

 

Here is an example of a lottery scam letter:

Bank of America did not have anything to do with the scam.  The criminals impersonated bank officers and used BOA’s logo and materials to create the forgery.

 Scam Letter Bank of America001Scam letter Page 2  Scam letter Page 3  Scam letter Page 4

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