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May 1, 2024

Steps to Take If You’ve Fallen Victim to a Scam

Occasionally, I receive calls from individuals who have been victims of scams, seeking help to recover their lost funds. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to retrieve money from scammers. They often use fake names, burner phones, and are typically based outside of the country. Both attorneys and law enforcement frequently struggle to locate these scammers or the stolen funds. Banks and other financial institutions are also stepping up their defenses by issuing warnings.

I use mobile notaries and pay some of them via Zelle. Each time, I must confirm that I know them and want to send them money. My bank may also require a code to confirm that it is really me authorizing the funds. This multistep process is designed to protect me and serve as a warning of potential risks, while also safeguarding the bank. Once you have confirmed multiple times that you wish to send money, the bank will not be held responsible if it turns out to be a scam.

In the past, it was simpler—if someone altered a check and the bank should have caught it, they were obligated to refund you. However, electronic payments require multiple confirmations, including codes sent to your phone, which scammers can obtain.

If your loved one has fallen for a scam, it is crucial to consider whether they should continue managing their own finances. This can be addressed by updating their trusts and financial powers of attorney. Just a warning: a diagnosis of dementia does not automatically protect against financial mishaps, as legal capacity is generally presumed unless clearly demonstrated otherwise.

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Geisler Patterson Law


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