A New Constant – Scams in Everyday Life

Sherry McCoy

Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD

is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or nbynews@juno.com.

A New Constant – Scams in Everyday Life

Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program


Is it just my imagination, or does it seem like time has picked up speed lately … maybe even taken flight?! I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to believe that it’s already September 2023! Just a couple more months, and we’re into the holiday season, and then off we go to the start of a whole new year. And along with time seeming to speed up, it seems like almost every day I hear of a new scam, some new scheme that fraudsters have cooked up to try to steal our money, our property, our identity and even our wellbeing. Haven’t they got anything better to do with their time? – Apparently not, because these days, no matter where I go, I’m bombarded with the reality that, yet another scam is clamoring for our attention, fighting for its place on the front page of our awareness. Recently, I had a couple of conversations that demonstrate just how much scams have become a constant in our everyday lives. The first conversation took place at a senior center; and the second took place via a series of emails with a friend.



I was having lunch at a senior center, sitting around a large community table with friends, acquaintances, and a few strangers. The conversation took the usual twists and turns, but eventually we began to discuss the really annoying and sometimes scary scam calls and texts we get almost daily. In that vein, I mentioned I had just finished reading a new novel by Spencer Quinn, called MRS. PLANSKY’S REVENGE*. It’s a compelling story about a woman in her early 70s who lives in Florida, who’s recently lost her husband, and who falls prey to an imposter scam – specifically, the “grandparents’ scam.” Mrs. Plansky received a phone call in the middle of the night from someone who she thought was her grandson. He said he was in big trouble, being held in jail for a DUI, and needed approximately $10,000 for bail, could she help? Of course, Mrs. Plansky would help! The only problem was the caller was not really Mrs. Plansky’s grandson … And the next day, Mrs. Plansky discovers that all of her bank accounts had been cleaned out … to the tune of several million dollars! Needless to say, Mrs. Plansky had a lot of complex feelings about that! An FBI investigation ensues, with their only possible lead being that the crooks might be in Romania. Mrs. Plansky takes it upon herself to follow that lead and … I won’t tell you what happens next. You’ll have to read the novel to find out! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!


The point here is that imposter schemes like the grandparents’ scam take place every day in our everyday lives. Most people involved in that discussion at the senior center had heard of the “grandparents’ scam.” One woman even mentioned that she and her family had developed a “code word” that only they knew, just in case they ever got a phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one who was in trouble and needed money. Others at the table agreed that having a “code word” was a good strategy, and an important way to protect ourselves from scammers. What happened to Mrs. Plansky, is no different than what may have happened to your next-door neighbor, or your sister-in-law, or the guy on the street. The only difference is that Mrs. Plansky is a fictional character, and your next-door neighbor, your sister-in-law, and the guy on the street, are not. The reality is that a whole lot of people are impacted by the fallout from a grandparents’ scam. Mrs. Plansky was robbed of her future; she could no longer provide her grandchildren with an inheritance that she and her husband had worked long and hard to develop and protect. Mrs. Plansky could no longer provide for her ageing father’s care at an assisted living facility, etc., etc., etc. The same is true for those in real life who are victims of the grandparents’ scam.


Sometimes fiction can help us see a larger picture and expand our awareness of the truth in ways nonfiction cannot.

Spencer Quinn has done us a great favor by writing this intriguing novel – MRS. PLANSKY’S REVENGE! He has shone a very bright light on something that has happened to thousands of seniors across the country, and beyond. So, Bravo to Spencer Quinn … and Brava to Mrs. Plansky!



For those who might not be familiar with what “WhatsApp” is, Wikipedia** says it is “a freeware, cross-platform, centralized instant messaging and voice-over-IP service [that] allows users to send text, voice messages and video messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other content.” Using WhatsApp to send texts, make calls, etc., can save you a lot of money. For this reason, it’s a popular method of communication with friends and family who live overseas, for example.


A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend saying she almost got scammed using “WhatsApp.” My friend (let’s call her Cheryl, not her real name) said she had been traveling in the Midwest when she got a text from someone saying they were delivering the cake she ordered to an address in Beverly Hills. Cheryl texted back that they must have the wrong number because she hadn’t ordered any cake. As the text conversation continued, the texter asked Cheryl if she would change over to WhatsApp to continue their conversation because it was easier. After Cheryl changed to WhatsApp, a lightbulb went off in her head and she began to think that maybe this was a scam. Cheryl ended the WhatsApp conversation, and deleted and blocked that number on her phone and on WhatsApp. A few days later when she returned home to LA, she got another unsolicited text saying an item she had ordered was in stock and would be delivered the next day. Fortunately, Cheryl had done some online research about WhatsApp scams after the text about the cake, so Cheryl knew this second text was bogus! It was not a wrong number – It was an impersonation scam! Cheryl immediately deleted and blocked that number as well. Good Job Cheryl!


NOTE: Why do scammers want to use WhatsApp to run their scams? According to Nord VPN (Virtual Private Network), *** — “WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, with over 2 billion monthly active users.” That’s a pretty large base! Further, scammers prefer to use WhatsApp to “steal personal details, commit identity theft, install malicious software on your device, or hustle money out of you by pretending to be someone they aren’t,” because it’s more convenient and they have greater anonymity with WhatsApp than with other platforms. To find out more about WhatsApp scams and how to protect yourself, see *** “Most Common WhatsApp Scams and How To Avoid Them” under REFERENCES below.


Be Empowered. Find Your Voice. Speak Out About Fraud!



Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.

For questions about Medicare fraud / abuse: In California, contact Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080.

U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.




*MRS. PLANSKY’S REVENGE, by Spencer Quinn, New York: Forge, Tor Publishing Group, 2023, https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250843333/mrs-planskys-revenge


**Wikipedia, WhatsApp, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp


*** Most Common WhatsApp Scams and How To Avoid Them, https://nordvpn.com/blog/whatsapp-scams/#:~:text=Many%20WhatsApp%20scammers%20have%20similar,be%20someone%20they%20aren’t




On Thursday, August 7th, SSSAP brought its education program to Exposition Park – Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Branch Library. LA City Councilwoman Heather Hutt (center); Anthony Montiel, Director of Claude Pepper Senior Center; Adrienne Omansky, SSSAP Founder and Director; and members of SSSAP pose with the 2023 LA City Council Resolution making May 15th Senior Fraud Awareness Day.

On Wednesday, October 4th, SSSAP will bring its education program to the Culver City Senior Center.

See the flyer for details.

Remember:  You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!

Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or nbynews@juno.com.


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