Veterans in the war against scammers

Former lawyer, now educator and writer Margaret White tells us about her mother's victory in the war against scammers who try to take advantage of older people.


This is a story about my 87-year-old mother Beverley. Like everyone in her generation, born before the end of the Second World War, she has a wealth of life experience to draw on as she negotiates the slings and arrows of old age. We Boomers can learn a lot from them. 

Like many older people, my mother doesn’t make a fuss or seek sympathy, but she won’t let scammers who prey on older people get away with it. She is a veteran in the war against those who make assumptions about gullible older people. 

Take the morning the phone rang, and it was ‘Simon’ from Microsoft. He was calling, he said, because she had a virus in her computer. In her best little old lady voice, mum sounded panic-stricken.  ‘A virus?’ she cried, ‘How could I have a virus? Is it fatal? What about my grandchildren, could they catch it from me?’ 

In vain, Simon tried to reassure her. All she had to do, he explained repeatedly and patiently, was to turn on her computer and he would fix it. Mum couldn’t be distracted from the fearful consequences of the virus. Each time she seemed about to turn the computer on, she thought of something else. Would she have to be quarantined?  What about her neighbours? Was there a cure? How much would it cost? 

This went on until eventually she agreed to turn her computer on. ‘I’ll just have to go and get it,’ she said, ‘I won’t be a minute’. 

She went to her room and made the bed. Then she got out the iron, set up the board and started the ironing. Eventually, to avoid missing a call from a friend or family member, she replaced the receiver. The phone rang almost Immediately. It was Simon. 

‘I’m so glad you rang back’, she said, her voice quavering. ‘I’ve looked and looked, and I can’t find it anywhere.’ 

‘What can’t you find?’ asked Simon. 

‘The computer. It’s not in my bedroom. I’ve gone through all the cupboards and I can’t find it.’ 

‘Do you actually have a computer?’ ventured Simon. 

‘I must have,’ wailed Mum, ‘you said it had a virus’.

Boom. So that’s how you deal with scammers while having a little fun yourself.  Don’t let people get away with contempt for older people and attempts to exploit them. It’s a serious issue and we can't stand by and let it happen.




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