HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – “If it can happen to me, it can happen to you,” former FBI and CIA Director William Webster warns in a video message urging seniors and their loved ones to beware of senior fraud, according to the FBI.
They say the 98-year-old retired judge and his wife, Lynda, were potential targets in a Jamaican lottery scam in 2014 when an unsolicited caller informed Webster he had won a draw.
The FBI said to collect his winnings – a car and millions of dollars – Webster was told he had to pay $50,000.
When the couple repeatedly refused, the caller became abusive and threatening. The Websters called the FBI and then worked with special agents from the Washington Field Office to catch the con man, who is currently serving a prison sentence.
They say the Websters are among millions of older Americans targeted each year in fraudulent schemes such as fake lotteries and romance scams. Fraudsters chain victims with promises of love or wealth in exchange for cash advances or help in moving illegal funds. Losses from these types of scams run into the hundreds of millions each year and increase as the US population ages.
The Websters’ case was featured on the FBI’s website in 2019 and garnered national attention, according to the FBI.
They said the couple hope the new Public Service Announcement (PSA) will remind older people, their families and carers to be on their guard against sophisticated schemes.
“Since becoming involved with this issue, we have heard sad stories of millions of dollars being stolen, lives being threatened and even suicides,” Lynda Webster said. “My husband has been targeted for years. And when a scammer threatened our lives, we knew we had to act.
“It’s in every family’s best interest to stay vigilant,” Lynda said. “As loved ones, we need to lovingly care for the well-being of older people in many ways. As the mental acuity of the elderly declines, their judgment erodes and it is the family’s responsibility to protect them from those who attack them.
If you think you or someone you know may have been scammed, contact your local FBI office or submit a tip online. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3.