Retirement-killing money mistakes

The suckers list

Crooks have a variety of schemes to separate seniors from their money. A person may call an elderly woman claiming to be a grandchild who just needs a little financial help “and please don’t tell Mom.” Or an elderly person may get news of “winning” a lottery or sweepstakes worth a fortune, if they’ll just forward a small bonding fee to cover taxes and administration. Each of these schemes might initially cost the victim only a few hundred or thousand dollars, but it almost never stops there. If victims get on a “suckers list” — a compendium of gullible people that crooks keep —  they’ll be exploited again and again. "They try to get the person to send them more and more money until they've just absolutely drained them dry," says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America. Check out fraud.org for a good rundown of scams to avoid, put together by the National Consumers League.