•May 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment


With all the negative things (mail fraud, elder abuse, magazine subscription scammers) I’ve been writing about, I thought it would be nice to share one of the activities that usually helps keep balance in my life–paddling.

While out paddling this morning, I was thinking that, for me, being on the water is the perfect synergy of workout and environment–the rhythm of the stroke, the glide of the boat through the water, the wildlife above and below the surface. All these elements blend in an activity that challenges my body while resetting my mind.

DCIM108GOPROMy preferred on-the-water time is dawn–sometimes I’ll launch before there is even a glow from the sun on the horizon. Often, I’m the only paddler on the water–sometimes (at least for a while) the only watercraft. There is just something special about being out there and connecting with the world when the day is new. It’s a great way for me to get in my workout before the needs of the work day infiltrate my mind and corrupt my resolve–but, it’s also the best way to launch the day in a positive mood.

While most of my paddling is done solo, a couple of times a week I also enjoy the workout and the spirit of paddling the six-person outrigger canoes with my club. The commitment, trust and teamwork involved in paddling an OC6 is reminiscent of the time I spent as a rower in college at Rutgers (and as a rowing coach after college).

2017 Sprints

While team paddling is very different from solo paddling–there is the added benefit of mutual motivation as well as the shared love of the water. It’s simply nice to be around other people who, while passionate about their workout, also love the environment we glide through–never quite too serious to not notice the cavorting dolphins or the fire-orange sunset.







•May 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

RX envelope scam

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare claims to be “trusted, independent, effective,” but I wouldn’t trust anyone who disguises their direct mail envelope (in appearance and feel) like some kind of prescription or prescription information coming in the mail. I wouldn’t trust anyone who sends more than two mailings to the same person each week–as they often do.

But, I have the luxury of a sound, skeptical mind–many seniors do not. This envelope is designed to prey on those who may not be able to make logical connections.

What senior (especially one who might have “memory issues”) would not want to open something that looks like medication? Even more so when the envelope says “open immediately and follow all instructions.”

Regardless of what lame plea for money is inside, someone with cognitive deficiencies (or just someone who was raised to follow directions) may still comply–writing a check to an organization that is deceptive, manipulative and unethical.

BEWARE. Look for similarly deceptive envelopes in the mail of your elderly parents or grandparents.





They are pretty much forcing seniors to open an envelope like this


•May 17, 2017 • 1 Comment

MAGAZINESI continue to be blown away by the people in this world that take advantage of the elderly and those with cognitive deficiencies. In helping my father get some things in order (including the mail I have written about previously), I’ve been trying to stop a number of magazine subscriptions that he doesn’t remember ordering and in which he has no need or interest.

My dad has never been a reader of Elle, Motor Trend, Men’s Journal, Automobile, Bon Apetit, Inc., Cosmopolitan or Shape.

These (and others I’ve already dealt with) are the product of predatory telemarketers who take advantage of those with memory or other cognitive issues. As I mentioned in my previous post, they also take advantage of the loneliness of seniors–engaging them in conversations that build trust or wear them down over time.

As I’ve tried to cancel (and just cancel, not even trying to get a refund for) these subscriptions, I’ve discovered that the magazine subscription business is a convoluted, multi-level monster. Magazines rarely depend on their own subscription departments to sell–they may do sales, but the majority of subscriptions come from contractors.

Let’s use Men’s Journal (a magazine I actually enjoy reading) as an example. I contacted them (I use email when I can because I want records of their replies) and this was the answer I received:

Thank you for contacting Men’s Journal Customer Service.

We are sorry that you wish to cancel your subscription. Our records indicate that your subscription was entered through Priority One Clearing Serv…a magazine agency. Unfortunately, we are unable to cancel orders placed through an agency and so you will need to contact the agency directly with your request. They can be reached at 1-727-443-2200. In the meantime, we will suspend delivery. Since our mailing labels are preprinted, you will receive a few more copies before delivery stops. Please discard these issues or share them with a friend. We hope you enjoyed our magazine, and that you will consider ordering from us in the future.

We appreciate this opportunity to be of service.

Well, that was one step–sort of. I contacted Priority One Clearing Service. They seemed (at least somewhat) sympathetic with this reply:


Priority One serves as a data processing office/clearinghouse for many different publishers, and we do not sell magazines or bill/invoice for subscriptions. We only process the data provided to us by others and send it to the publishers.  We are happy to help you get the information that you will need to get this situation resolved.

Per your request, this order (MENS JOURNAL) has been CANCELLED. Because magazine labels are pre-printed, you may receive 1-2 more issues, then the subscription will stop.

We have also contacted the company that initiated this order to request that your name and address be removed from any mailing lists.

If you would like more information, please contact the company that initiated this order. This order was sent to Priority One for processing by the company (DIRECT CLEARING). You can contact them directly at (866-494-1010). They will be able to answer your questions or refer you to the company that started your order. They will be able to explain exactly why the order was started in your name and provide any billing information if it applies.

Please use the following reference number when you contact that company:  (1914387 #)   .

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Wow. So here is another company involved–somewhat helpful, but ultimately passing the buck. I paused here without contacting Direct Clearing and did a little research online. Direct Clearing has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau for numerous unresolved complaints. They also pop up on most of the scam and fraud websites. I’m looking forward to dealing with them. But, what worries me is that in that reply from Priority One they say that Direct Clearing “will be able to…refer you to the company that started your order.”

What? I need to go (possibly) to a fourth company (that I know of) to cancel a magazine subscription and have my father’s name removed from their phone and mail lists. Who but scammers and crooks would make canceling a magazine so difficult?

Stay tuned for an update.

PHONE and Discount Club Scams

•May 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

phone scam imageDirect mail is not the only way that scammers take advantage of and abuse the elderly. Because they are often lonely, seniors fall prey to telephone solicitors who will engage them in conversation (often over multiple calls) long enough to earn their trust or wear them down. They take advantage of this and any decline in the elderly’s cognitive abilities.

If you can get a look at your elderly parents’ or grandparents’ credit card and/or bank statements look out for recurring charges from:

  • ITD
  • WC Value Plus

These are two known scammers that somehow get access to account information via the purchase of another product and then enroll the buyer in a “discount club” membership that never materializes. The only action is the money that “dematerializes” via recurring credit card charges and/or EFTs.

If you have a parent or grandparent that you suspect may have fallen prey to scammers–either in mail or on the phone–look carefully at past statements for recurring charges of any kind. Take the time to investigate and cancel them–you can save them hundreds of dollars (or more) over the course of a year.


•March 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

What would you do if it appeared that paying $139.99 would seem to exponentially increase your chances of winning $2 million? What if you received three solicitations from the same Award Notification Commission (ANC) on the same day? Well, if you are elderly you might have sent some scamming scumbags in Kansas City, KS a total of $229.87 (that’s including two $3 “Rush Processing” charges).

Many of the so-called “sweepstakes” and “award notification commissions” scam the elderly by requiring an up-front fee for “premium offer delivery.” They also state that this fee is “mandatory” and “not an option.”SWEEPSTAKES 3

The forceful and manipulative language used by these fraudulent award notification commissions is purposely misleading the elderly into mailing them thousands of dollars.


Sure, there is a disclaimer: “No purchase necessary. Purchase will not increase chance of winning.” But, that still doesn’t seem to trump the prevalent use of forceful language (“MANADATORY” and “REQUIREMENT”) in the minds of the elderly (especially those with even mild cognitive challenges).


Legitimate sweepstakes (if such a thing truly exists) do not require any payment upfront–not for “special processing,” “disbursement fees,” or “taxes.”

So, what do the elderly get for the money they send the sweepstakes scammers?

  • Divine Four Leaf Clover Pendant on an 18″ Gold Tone Necklace
  • Genuine Pink Tourmaline Pendant
  • Sparkling-citrine Coloured Crystal Pendant
  • MORE mail solicitations

THEY GET JUNK. They get a smaller bank account. And, of course, they get no increased chance of winning $2 million.

If you see your parents or grandparents receiving anything like the “sweepstakes” offers here–help them now! Examine the letters. Examine their checkbooks. Don’t think that this is nothing. If they are receiving any offers, if they are receiving multiple offers, there is a good chance they have already sent money to these scammers. Help them stop now.







•March 28, 2017 • 1 Comment

I want to call out a few of the organizations that operate on the margins of what is considered “legal” in their quest to milk our elderly of whatever income or assets they may have.

  • The Seniors Trust
  • The Seniors Center
  • Safe Borders Coalition
  • National Council for Survivors
  • Senior Citizens Alliance
  • Benefit Security Coalition

SASE outgoing junk mail

Notice that the top six postage-paid return envelopes look eerily similar. The letters that they came with were equally similar:

  1. Claiming they could not continue “X” campaign in Washington, D.C. because they were facing debts in a very specific, named amount (e.g. $17,653.22).
  2. Asking for a very specific, named amount (e.g. $16.73) as a donation.

Both of these manipulative strategies are designed to make the reader think, “Hmmm…that’s a very specific amount. It must be legitimate if they know EXACTLY what they owe and EXACTLY what they need from me down to the penny.”

Rest assured, while the above envelopes are going back to these organizations, they are not going back with a check included. They are going back with some very frank commentary (in bold, black magic marker) on their sad use of tactics that prey on the elderly. I am calling them out on their scams and telling them to take my father off their mailing lists.

I know it’s something that might not work. But, I will tell you that it made me feel a lot better and allowed me to vent some of the anger I was feeling towards these scumbags.

Again, if you have elderly parents or grandparents, I implore you to take notice of the mail they receive–the quantity and the actual organizations. You can check out many of the so-called charities with some charity-rating systems:

You can also just Google the organizations. Often, the first search result will contain the word “scam.” That should be a red flag (duh.).

If they seem to be receiving excessive amounts of mail (especially repeated mail from the same organizations), I suggest you find a way to get a peek at their checkbook ledgers or online accounts–they may be falling prey to the manipulation of these bottom-feeders and mailing away their assets or income one $10, $24.67 or $100 check at a time.

Spread the word.


•February 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been fascinated by dolphins since I was a kid. I don’t know whether it was the vague recollections of the original Flipper TV series, the sightings off the beach of Anna Maria Island while on vacation, the Jacques Cousteau specials  or a combination of all three, but for some reason I’ve always been intrigued by and interested in these amazing creatures.

On those Anna Maria Island vacations I would often see small groups of dolphins moving up or down the beach at nearly the same times each day. While laying on the beach reading, I’d have my mask and snorkel and fins at the ready. As soon as I spotted the dolphins in the distance I would don my gear and head for the water. No matter how many times I tried–I never got close enough for an underwater glimpse.

This morning, I set out to get in my first training in the outrigger canoe in a week. It was a relatively calm, overcast morning on the water near Dunedin–just enough break in the clouds to let a little orange glow from the sunrise peek through. At about the four-mile mark as I started to turn around I noticed a couple of small groups of dolphins. They were feeding and frolicking and I just had to stop. Most were at least a few yards away, but one passed right in front of the bow for a close encounter.

It was an interruption to what was supposed to have been a continuous, steady workout–but, more importantly, it was a reminder of why I love to train in natural environments.

It also reminded me that I have a novel I wrote–with dolphins at the core–that is waiting for completion–as well as two other novel storylines with dolphins at the center waiting–waiting for me to harness the motivation to move forward.

Maybe today’s encounter will be the little push I’ve needed.