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Father Fails to Believe He is a Victim of a Lottery Scam

In part 2 of this podcast, Brad learns his father is now being used as a money mule

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Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Bob: This week on The Perfect Scam.  

[00:00:03] Heidi Tjeltveit: On the day of my mother's memorial service, my father came and asked me for money. The day of my mother's memorial service.  

[00:00:16] Bob: That's so painful, wow.  

[00:00:18] Heidi Tjeltveit: He, obviously, was put up to it. The, the criminals no doubt, "Of course I wasn't going to." He stormed away. Slammed the door. I just stood there, and then I don't know, maybe a half-hour, 45 minutes later it was like nothing happened with him. It was... it was like he hadn't said it.  


[00:00:45] Bob: Welcome back to The Perfect Scam. I'm your host, Bob Sullivan. This is part two of our story, Lottery Victim Turns Money Mule. When we left our story, Brad Simpson had just convinced the judge that his father Paul should no longer have access to his own bank accounts. Paul had sent about $150,000 to criminals thinking he was paying a fee to claim a big lottery prize, so that we're all afraid that the crime would continue. Brad cut off the money and even cut off the phone line. But that wasn't the end of it. It was really just the beginning.  

[00:01:19] Brad Simpson: First of all, I got rid of his landline, because there's no real way to block incoming calls. And then I, I confiscated his cell phone, and I got him, I got him a, a cell phone with parental controls, which is a bit ironic. He could only accept calls from and text messages from people in the address book in that phone.  

[00:01:43] Bob: But that doesn't work, not for long. Even though Paul never used a computer, he had no time for technology, the criminals still found a way to communicate with him. Here's Detective Byron Pierce of the Overland Park Police who had already met with Paul twice and tried to talk him out of working with the criminals.  

[00:02:01] Det. Pierce: And one of the issues that tried to thwart or slow the tide a little bit was to try to sever communication with these con artists, right. So Brad would hide his cell phone, right. Brad also knew if I have his cell phone, how is it that he's able to continue to communicate with these con artists? So Brad started searching around the house, and he found a pre-paid cell phone that his dad went out and got without him, without him knowing to continue to communicate with these con artists. So, not only did he, we tried to eliminate or tried to minimize the contact with these con artists, Paul Simpson decided it was so important to him to continue this relationship that he went out, I don't know, at his direction or it could have been at the direction of the con artist, went out and purchased a pre-paid cellular telephone. 

[00:03:06] Bob: And not just one pre-paid phone, like something right out of a movie.  Over time there is a steady stream of burner phones.  

[00:03:14] Brad Simpson: Of course, the crooks always made sure however that he had a pre-paid cell phone and enough minutes to stay in constant contact with him. And that he, you know, he probably slept with the phone, but he always had one. He always made sure they had one or they always made sure he had one, so there was this game of cat and mouse uh as I like to say, before I was appointed conservator, it was kind of the hot war, and after I was appointed conservator, then it kind of became the cold war where it was him and basically by this time it was just one person, one guy in Jamaica, one scammer in Jamaica that he called Frank that would do their best to try to you know circumvent the safeguards I put in place to protect you know what was left of my folks' finances.  


[00:04:05] Bob: Why are the criminals so intent on keeping communication lines open with Brad's father? After all, he has no money left to give them. It takes a while, but Brad is able to put together the pieces and discover the disturbing truth; Paul is working for them now.  

[00:04:23] Brad Simpson: Well at first, basically the crooks would use him, not only to, to cover the money trail, but also they would use him to make themselves look more legitimate, you know, as best as I can tell, the way they work was if another victim was reluctant to wire money overseas, they would say, "Okay, well you can, you can just send the money to one of our payment processors here in the United States." A payment processor being, of course, a euphemism for money launderer, or money mule. So what they would do is they would send my dad money in the mail, at first it was cash, and then later it would be on debit cards, you know, preloaded with funds. And then my dad would, would wire the money, you know via, via the two main wire transfer services, Western Union and MoneyGram. 

[00:05:10] Bob: Act Two of this story is Paul Simpson acting as what's called a money mule for the criminals, receiving mail -- often cash or prepaid cards -- and forwarding it on to the criminals.  

[00:05:24] Bob: So your dad would make sure to intercept the mail before anyone else could, I'm sure, right, and... 

[00:05:29] Brad Simpson: Absolutely. I mean, and if, if I happened to be in the house at the time, he'd, he'd practically run me over to get to the mailbox first.  

[00:05:38] Bob: And then he's take this envelope stuffed full of cash, open it up, and then go to the bank and wire money to the criminals, and, and where were the criminals? 

[00:05:46] Brad Simpson: Yeah, he would, he would take the money, in the case of the cash, you know, he would take the cash to a Western Union or, or MoneyGram, you know, where there's a Western Union or MoneyGram location, typically a local supermarket. He had several places that he used, and he always kind of moved around to try to, you know, minimize suspicion, and I think he was coached to do that also. In the case of the debit cards what they would do is, the other victims would load the debit card with cash, they would mail it to my father, but they would give the pin number for the debit card to the crooks. So then when my dad would receive the debit card, he would talk to the crooks on the phone, they'd give him the pin number, he would go to an ATM, withdraw the cash, and then wire the funds.  

[00:06:38] Bob: How long did this money mule stuff go on for?  

[00:06:41] Brad Simpson: For the rest of his life.  

[00:06:43] Bob: At first, Paul does his best to hide these ongoing calls with the criminals.  

[00:06:48] Brad Simpson: What I noticed is at least on Saturday and, and Sunday, invariably he would disappear for an hour or two or sometimes maybe even more and not come home until after dark because he was out doing business for these people.  

[00:07:04] Bob: But as time goes on, Paul is doing deals pretty much out in the open. During one trip home, Paul's sister, Heidi Tjeltveit, can't believe what she sees. Well overhears anyway.  

[00:07:16] Heidi Tjeltveit: I actually had--, I was home visiting one time and I believe it was in the summer and I heard him talking to the criminals.  

[00:07:25] Bob: Wow.  

[00:07:26] Heidi Tjeltveit: In his office. Yeah. 

[00:07:27] Bob: What was that like?  

[00:07:28] Heidi Tjeltveit: Like, I mean I just like, it was just like, oh my gosh, he's doing this, and he knows that I am in the house and nearby and could possibly hear him. And he didn't try to hide it at all. At all.  

[00:07:45] Bob: I mean that, that must have been heartbreaking.  

[00:07:48] Heidi Tjeltveit: It was, 'cause you don't, you know, my dad was such a good guy. I, we really didn't want to believe that of him, that he would be doing these things.  

[00:07:56] Bob: After you heard, you, you overheard your dad, um, talking to the criminals, um, did you, did you talk to him about it? Did you, did you have any conversation about it?  

[00:08:06] Heidi Tjeltveit: No, I didn't know what to say. I was just dumbstruck.  

[00:08:11] Bob: Yeah, sure.  

[00:08:12] Heidi Tjeltveit: Just so taken aback. And again, you know maybe I was in shock, but I, like what? Wait? I don't understand. I don't understand.  

[00:08:20] Bob: As he had done before, Brad turns to law enforcement for help.  

[00:08:25] Det. Pierce: Brad turns over and gives me the cell phone and a numerous number of, of letters that contain, you know, cashier’s checks and checks. I'm familiar with the scam. It's, you know, that particular scam has been around for decades, many decades. So nothing has changed with respect to how the con artists get these money mules to pass cashier checks and then wire the money from the proceeds of the checks back to them. So this, this scheme never stopped. The con artists just manipulated him into doing another part of another con.  

[00:09:04] Bob: The criminals are bold. Armed with numbers from the prepaid phones that Brad has found, Det. Pierce tries calling them to tell them to leave Paul Simpson alone. That doesn't get them anywhere.  

[00:09:16] Det. Pierce: I personally called some of the numbers, and I personally talked to some of the scammers. Obviously, they had no, you know, no fear in speaking with me because they're international. They’re thousands of miles away from me, and they know my reach is not that far. So for them to talk to me was not a big deal. And I explained to them my title, my role, and I was fully aware what they were doing was illegal, and basically, they, they didn't care, and they hung up on me.  

[00:09:52] Bob: So you call up and say, "I am Detective Byron Pierce," and the criminals says, "Hi, how are you doing?" No, they're not afraid at all? 

[00:10:02] Det. Pierce: No, not afraid. 

[00:10:03] Bob: Brad is worried his dad is helping facilitate crimes, maybe even committing crimes. Maybe that's part of why he keeps going, Heidi thinks.  

[00:10:12] Heidi Tjeltveit: I think that at certain periods in a person's life and then, well, in anybody's life right now I guess, right, during COVID, people are vulnerable. I know that my dad was, you know, life was beginning to slow down a bit. Some of his friends were getting sick or dying, even though, you know, he had a core group of people that he hung out with. My mom was suffering from memory loss. Grandkids lived far away. Life was changing, getting worse for my mother; I think that he was, that he was vulnerable and that created an opportunity for people to come in and sort of fill that gap for him or, or somehow fill his cup or made him feel needed but in a different way. In a different way. Not because I can't remember this or I don't know how this works or those kinds of things; I'm sure they flattered him, complimented him for the work that he was doing.  

[00:11:13] Bob: Makes so much sense to me that you know somebody who makes you feel useful, you know, can just get you to do a lot of things.  

[00:11:20] Heidi Tjeltveit: Yep. 

[00:11:22] Bob: Heidi feels powerless to stop it all. Any efforts to talk with her dad just feel like running into a brick wall.  

[00:11:29] Heidi Tjeltveit: My father's behaving as if someone had brainwashed him, right, the criminals have all the answers, counterpoints to whatever points that you would, or arguments that you would raise. They have it all figured out. So I knew that whatever argument you would have with them, there would be a comeback that was informed by the criminals.  

[00:11:50] Bob: Yeah, they knew, they had the answer to everything that you might say to your dad. So what do you say? 

[00:11:56] Heidi Tjeltveit: Stop it. That wasn't going to work.  

[00:11:58] Bob: Yeah.  

[00:12:00] Bob: A couple of years pass. Paul is still sending money to the criminals. Piles of mail keep arriving at the house, and mom's condition keeps deteriorating. And then in 2012, she passes away. Paul is so wrapped up in the scam even the funeral services don't stop him.  

[00:12:19] Heidi Tjeltveit: I do remember, the day my mother, this is when he was way into it for many years, and it just, it just struck me so powerfully and so hurtfully, on the day of my mother's memorial service my father came and asked me for money. Asked me for money the day of my mother's memorial service.  

[00:12:45] Bob: That's so painful. Wow.  

[00:12:47] Heidi Tjeltveit: He, obviously, was put up to it, the, the criminals, no doubt, "I, of course I wasn't going to." He stormed away. Slammed the door. I just stood there and then I don't know, maybe a half-hour, 45 minutes later, it was like nothing happened with him. It was... it was like he hadn't said it. He hadn't heard it. I'm like, oh my gosh.  

[00:13:19] Bob: That sounds so painful for you. I mean you're trying to mourn your mom and your, your father's having this crazy encounter with you. I'm so sorry.  

[00:13:28] Heidi Tjeltveit: Yeah. It, I mean, thanks, it was just something that tells you how far gone he was.  

[00:13:34] Bob: In fact, the death of his wife only seems to intensify Paul's passion for working with the criminals.  

[00:13:40] Brad Simpson: Yes, and you know, and it was, it was very difficult for him, and in a way, uh, after she passed, I think, I think the, his involvement with the scammers, you know, the money laundering and everything else, I think it gave him a reason to, to keep going and to get out of the house.  

[00:13:59] Bob: I hear that story from a lot of people. Um, it's, it's really often... 

[00:14:03] Brad Simpson: A little bit of excitement, you know. I think there was a little bit of thrill there, and then always the anticipation that he's finally going to get this big prize and, and maybe a little bit of fun too trying to, you know, for the mouse to beat the cat. And knowing that maybe in the back of his mind too, that law enforcement was aware of what he was doing, and maybe that added to the thrill a little bit. Who knows.  

[00:14:29] Bob: And you said, when we first started talking, your father was a very, I'm going to use the word gregarious. I'm, I'm imagining a, a salesman who, you know, just really likes being out, talking to people, making friends, right?  

[00:14:41] Brad Simpson: Yeah, absolutely. And he was very high functioning too which presented its own set of challenges uh in our case. So being a salesman and also sounding completely normal to people he talked to, nobody would have suspected what was going on.  

[00:14:59] Bob: Right about now, Brad starts to notice something else strange, that a couple of his father's automated payments had been returned. The account where dad's Social Security check is automatically deposited has a negative balance. A quick investigation reveals that the criminals have persuaded Paul to redirect those payments to an account controlled by them.  

[00:15:21] Brad Simpson: He had gone to them, and he said, "I don't," you know, "I don't want my Social Security payments going to this bank account anymore. I want them sent someplace else." And again, I think this is where maybe my dad being a salesman and being high functioning, you know, that he walked, probably walked in there, you know maybe told them a few jokes and you know said, "Well he sounds perfectly fine to me."  

[00:15:45] Bob: But while that investigation is quick, fixing the problem takes forever. Brad makes several appeals to the Social Security Administration to stop this redirection of his benefit checks. And he's rejected.  

[00:15:58] Brad Simpson: I mean it just; I was just confounded. I, you know, I just, I couldn't believe it.  

[00:16:04] Bob: How many Social Security checks went to the wrong place?  

[00:16:07] Brad Simpson: 18.  

[00:16:09] Bob: So 18 monthly checks.  

[00:16:11] Brad Simpson: Yes. Yeah.  

[00:16:12] Bob: So for a year and a half Social Security was sending the money to the wrong place. How many checks after you first started complaining?  

[00:16:18] Brad Simpson: Um, 17. I mean you know, I complained after, aft--, when the first check bounced, you know, that was the first, that was the first month that, you know, that he, his payments were being diverted. So yeah. It was for the 17 following months. 

[00:16:35] Bob: But I think people will like to know that Social Security was sending money to a criminal. You, you told them, and they kept doing it.  

[00:16:45] Brad Simpson: Yep. Yeah.  

[00:16:48] Bob: Paul is so far gone that even as his own health deteriorates, he continues working with the criminals.  

[00:16:55] Brad Simpson: Yeah, during, uh during one of his three stays in the ICU, after he'd had a minor heart attack, but, but enough of a heart attack to give him congestive heart failure. I know one time when I, I stopped off to visit him when, when he was being you know held overnight for a series of nights, I walked in, and he was talking to him on his prepaid cell phone in his hospital bed. 

[00:17:20] Bob: When you would catch your father at a moment like that, would he, would he, you know, hang up quickly? Would he look embarrassed? Would he look angry at you?  

[00:17:28] Brad Simpson: No, he, he would usually hang up, but he wouldn't do it hastily. He would just tell whoever he was talking to that he couldn't talk anymore, and he would talk to them later. And he knew I knew what he was doing. And, so he was just, he just kind of did it matter-of-factly.  

[00:17:47] Bob: As his health continues to decline, Paul never gives up the dream that arrived in the mailbox that day nearly 10 years earlier when a piece of mail said he had won a lottery.  

[00:17:57] Bob: And do you think at least part of him this whole time thought that eventually they were going to, they were going to pay out and get, get him his money back or even give him that, that lottery winnings they'd promised? 

[00:18:08] Brad Simpson: Absolutely. Among other things, my dad was an optimist, and I think that he believed all evidence to the contrary that one day uh, he would get his big prize and he'd be vindicated.  

[00:18:21] Heidi Tjeltveit: I think my brother probably mentioned that my father was an optimist. I don't know if you were aware of this, but there was a, there are optimistic clubs. I don't know if they're fraternal organizations or sorry, I don't know what term I'm looking for here, but like you would have the Lion's Club or whatever, and there were optimists, and I don't know what qualified you, but my father certainly was a card-carrying member of that, and I think he was always hopeful hat some kind of deal would come through, and that's what kept him going for many, many years.  

[00:18:54] Bob: Right till the end he thought he was going to get his money back.  

[00:18:56] Heidi Tjeltveit: Right till the end. Absolutely. Absolutely. And he wasn't (sigh) I won't want to believe that my dad, just knowing my dad and how important family was to him, he wasn't going to use that money to buy you know a villa in Italy or, you know, buy another house or you know an expensive car or anything like that. He wanted the money to help his family, to finish putting my sister through college if she wanted to go, to help his grandchildren. So it wasn't necessarily for his own personal gain but for, for other people. That's who he was.  

[00:19:36] Bob: Did you ever have a, a moment with him where you came to, at least some kind of understanding about what was going on at the end? 

[00:19:44] Brad Simpson: No, we just, we just didn't talk about it, you know, when it was, when it was clear when he was, when he had hospice and it, and it was, you know we knew he wasn't going to be with us much longer, I, I just didn't see any point to it. I, I like to think that somewhere in the back of his mind he knew we just, like before, we just, we just didn’t talk about it. And I didn't see any point at that time uh, yeah, so.  

[00:20:12] Bob: In 2018, at age 92, Paul dies. The lottery winnings, well they never arrive.  

[00:20:19] Bob: And when it was all over, I'm just picturing you slumping into a chair and finally feeling a sense of relief.  

[00:20:26] Brad Simpson: Yeah. I was, things, you know, things with, with his health and, and everything else, things just couldn't continue, you know, going on the way that they were. So, yes, I was, I was relieved.  

[00:20:42] Bob: The ordeal lasted more than 10 years.  

[00:20:45] Det. Pierce: I have to give a lot of credit to Brad. Brad was very proactive. Brad identified the problem early on. And even Brad to this day, he does not want to see any other individuals replacing his father, because it was a very, very difficult time period for Brad to have to sit back and try to help his dad with his finances from losing it all. So Brad, I give, you know, my hat goes--, goes off to Brad, 'cause Brad was very, very much involved from day one.  

[00:21:17] Bob: And it probably could have been worse without him, right?  

[00:21:20] Det. Pierce: There's no doubt about it. It would have been worse.  

[00:21:22] Bob: Brad's immediate reaction was to plan to start speaking to groups about what happened to his dad hoping to help others avoid it. But the global pandemic put a dent in those plans.  

[00:21:32] Brad Simpson: COVID kind of, kind of uh, put a halt to that, at least for the time being. I uh, that's something I, I may take up again. You know, frankly, in, in, in 2019, that was just kind of me, you know, you mentioned about relief and, and just kind of me recovering, just trying to get back to some semblance of a, of a normal life after, you know, all those years of, you know, dealing with my dad and my mom.  

[00:22:00] Bob: Is there any way to avoid a 10-year ordeal like this? Det. Pierce has a lot to say about that. Here's what he tells anyone who calls looking for advice after receiving unsolicited notices in the mail like the one that Paul Simpson got.  

[00:22:15] Det. Pierce: You can't win a sweepstake or a lottery you never signed up for. And we, we know for a fact that Paul never did. Okay. And also, ask yourself, why would a perfect stranger call you out of a hundred of million of people that's going to offer you a hundred million dollars for something that you had no interest in in the first place. And the critical thing is, be stingy with your personal information. Your personal information is way more val--, valuable than an individual claiming you are a millionaire, and the old saying, if it's too good to be true, trust me, it's too good to be true. Avoid any solicitation or random telephone calls when a person calls you trying to give away money. No one gives away money, period. That just doesn't happen. And lastly, avoid and do not be tempted or get caught up in the web of lies that people tell you over the telephone. They're trying to gain your trust so that they can put their hands into your pocketbook and wallet.  

[00:23:19] Bob: And after years of working on these crimes, one thing that sticks out to Det. Pierce is how the criminals just never seem to give up.  

[00:23:27] Det. Pierce: These individuals are relentless. They are professionals. This is their job. This is what they do every single day. They coach--, just like a random solicitor trying to sell us a product. This is what they do. They're very good at it. And they have a way to manipulate and gain the trust of their victims. Just be aware of that. And also, be aware of the instructions that seemingly may sound bizarre. If you think it doesn't sound right, more than likely it's not going to be right. And try to avoid and try to distance yourself from people like that. 

[00:24:10] Bob: Heidi is anxious to talk about what happened so she can maybe help other families in the middle of an ordeal like this.  

[00:24:18] Heidi Tjeltveit: Again, there's, there's, they're just so sophisticated that it's, anybody can fall victim, and it's just much, much better to educate and prevent and rather than have to deal with it after the fact. So, talk to your friends and tell them, tell them to keep an eye on, and be, and then be in conversation with their older family members about what's happening. 

[00:24:39] Bob: Let--, let's say you had a chance to talk to someone who was kind of caught up in this. Is there, is there anything you might think to say to that person?  

[00:24:49] Heidi Tjeltveit: Don't be ashamed. It, everybody makes mistakes. These, these criminals are very, very, very sophisticated. They know, they know how to get through to people. They know how to manipulate people. They are geniuses at this. You aren't the only one that it's happened to, and there's no shame, there's no shame. To ask, ask for help, talk to somebody, let somebody know, and don't hide it.  

[00:25:21] Bob: Brad has some very specific advice for people dealing with a lottery scam or a money mule situation, and particularly dealing with Social Security.  

[00:25:30] Brad Simpson: In retrospect, one of the first things I should have done uh when I was appointed my dad's conservator was also apply to be appointed his representative payee. I think why I didn't do that, I'm not really sure. You know look, because it's been so long, but I, I don't think I knew what a representative payee was. Perhaps our lawyer mentioned it along the way, but it's also possible too that, you know, after fighting for several months to be appointed conservator, once I was appointed conservator, I was, I was maybe so relieved that I thought, well, you know, my work's done here. Now all I have to do is be conservator. And really, I had no cause for concern until about five years later when uh, his bank told that a check bounced.  

[00:26:16] Bob: The last 10 years really took a lot out of Brad.  

[00:26:20] Brad Simpson: Yeah, well, I was going to say, for the most part after the conservatorship, my, I wouldn't say it was, our relationship wasn't the same, but in many respects it was, it was very normal and, and very calm, but we did have a few flareups along the way, and I'm not proud to say that uh, you know, I did shout at him a few times, still, but, but for the most part, you know, we just, we just didn't talk about it for the sake of, you know, peace in the household.  

[00:26:49] Bob: That's why for family members trying to help a victim through an ordeal like this, patience is important, but self-care is really important too.  

[00:26:58] Brad Simpson: Another lesson I learned is that, you know, the scammers are relentless. So as family members trying to protect a parent, we do have to be relentless or at least, at least try to be. Also, if you're a, an adult child or family member fighting one of these scams, it helps to have a support group. Mine was uh, two very supportive sisters and some good friends who are always willing to lend a, a sympathetic ear, and occasionally to tell me I was a good son, which at times I didn't feel like.  

[00:27:29] Bob: Brad is obviously an amazing son. I do a lot of these stories, but I have to tell you, this one really felt like a punch in the gut to me.  

[00:27:38] Last year AARP and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation worked together on a study: Addressing the Challenge of Chronic Fraud Victimization.  Chronic fraud victims experience “more intense emotional swings,” the report found. Because of that, temporary feelings of fulfillment are replaced with lingering despair once a fraud is exposed, making that original void much deeper, and the result is a heightened vulnerability to future scams. Also, chronic victimization is a phenomenon that appears highly entrenched in the hope that the scam will ultimately work out in the victim's favor, and if it does not, there remains a recurring hope that the next “opportunity” that presents itself will succeed. These kinds of stories underscore the importance of preventing engagement with fraud to begin with. This can come, for example, in adult kids regularly engaging with their parents on scams they are hearing about, because if you’ve heard about it before, your chances of engaging are small, and smaller still are your losses if you do engage with the scam. 

[00:28:42] Brad really wanted me to make sure our listeners didn't leave this story with a narrow vision of the person his father was.  

[00:28:49] Bob: So how are you now?  

[00:28:51] Brad Simpson: I'm doing good. I'm doing good. Thankfully, uh I'm in, I'm in good health, and I do look forward someday to put this behind me and, and I don't want listeners to think that the scam is my dad's legacy. It's, it's certainly not. It's, it's a chapter, albeit a, a sad one in a much larger book that's full of a lot of fond memories, and that's what I hold onto.  

[00:29:20] Bob: Okay, well I want to give listeners that to hold onto too. So tell me another chapter of your dad's life. A, a good memory from when you were younger.  

[00:29:30] Brad Simpson: Well, uh, as we mentioned, uh as I mentioned before, you know, my dad was a traveling salesman, but always seemed to find time to spend with all of us. And when I was in grade school, and junior high, for many of those years my dad was the manager of my Little League baseball team. Overall, you know, he was, he was optimistic, and he loved to tell stories that, especially ones that made other people laugh. And as I said at, at his memorial service, you know, one of the things I appreciate about him is that he took his obligations seriously but, but not himself. And I thought that was great, and I thought that was a good example for me. And that's, that's something I try to do.  

[00:30:14] Bob: And as we ended our talk, Brad said something to me that I just keep thinking about.  

[00:30:19] Brad Simpson: My other takeaway from the experience fighting this scam was that and, and maybe it's a larger life lesson, is that disappointment is inevitable, but discouragement is a choice. In my dad's case, I made a conscious choice not to be discouraged, because discouraged is what the crooks want family members to be when they uh try to intervene. 

[00:30:41] Bob: Disappointment is inevitable, but discouragement is a choice.  

[00:30:45] Brad Simpson: Yes.  

[00:30:47] Bob: That's fantastic.  

[00:30:49] Bob: And he even asked me to explain that a little more, so he wrote me an email after our interview. Here's what the email said. "If you're fighting to protect a loved one from one of these scams, expect to be disappointed because sometimes people in a position to help you won't, because they can't or for some reason; fear, greed, they choose not to which leaves you with the choice. Do you get discouraged, lose heart, which is what the scammers want, so you'll eventually give up, or choose not to be discouraged and keep on fighting. In this case, I chose to fight."  


[00:31:34] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; Researcher, Haley Nelson; Associate Producer, Annalea Embree; and of course, our Audio Engineer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan. 



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Brad is in an uphill battle he never expected: He can’t convince his father that he’s the victim of a classic lottery scam. Even after talking to a veteran police detective and having a judge declare his son the conservator of his finances, Brad’s father just won’t stop sending money to the criminals. By the time his father has lost almost all of his life’s savings, Brad can’t believe it could get any worse. Then, he learns his father is not only a scam victim, but is also working for the scammers ― as a money mule.   

The Perfect ScamSM is a project of the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which equips consumers like you with the knowledge to give you power over scams.


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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
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