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 Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or


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


Happy New Year Everyone! Here we are at the beginning of the new year, 2024! If you’re like me, you probably are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. In what ways can I improve my life and the lives of others going forward? What lessons did I learn in 2023, and how can I make sure that I implement those lessons learned in the year ahead? Those are some big questions. And more than likely, the answers will require a lot of personal, in-depth soul-searching. But, as a group of seniors who are on the lookout for ways to protect ourselves from scammers, we can hold the intention to make some Scam Busting New Year’s Resolutions together. For starters, let’s review some of the prominent senior scams we explored in this NOT BORN YESTERDAY (NBY) column during 2023*.


In 2023, we looked at: AI ‘Voice Cloning’ Scams, Credit Union Imposter Scams, Juice Jacking, Lottery Scams, Mystery Gift Scams, Parking Lot Scams, PayPal Scams, Romance Scams, Skimming, and Vacation/Travel Scams. That’s actually quite a few scams to tackle in one year! Yet, if you consider the vast variety of scams that are out there, this list is just the beginning! The Scam Glossary**, an excellent resource provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), puts things in perspective: The FCC Scam Glossary lists 65 different scams! — Scams from A-Z, including a couple of phone scams (the area code 809 Scam and the 90# Scam), are reviewed and provide detailed info about each scam and what to do about it if you fall prey to a scam. The Glossary of Scams and Legal Terms**, from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is also an excellent resource.


While these lists are not exhaustive, they do point to the fact that scammers are extremely busy, 24/7, cooking up ways to part us from our hard-earned cash! It behooves us, therefore, to educate ourselves about their nefarious schemes. Consider making it a practice to stay on top of scams that target seniors. Exploring the scam glossaries provided by the FCC and FTC is a great place to start! You can also do some of your own research and share what you find out with friends and family. And please consider using this NBY column as a place to help spread the word about scams that target seniors. Your comments and scam stories are always welcome here. You can write to me at “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or I would love to hear from you.



Another way to stay ahead of the game when it comes to scammers, is to be aware of scammer tactics, sometimes referred to as RED FLAGS. Whether you receive an unsolicited email or text, phone call, or letter in the mail, here is a list of scammer red flags that shout, “THIS IS PROBABLY A SCAM!” You might want to post these on the refrigerator door, or some other prominent location, as a reminder. (See RED FLAG REFERENCES*** below.)


It’s Probably A Scam IF:


It sounds too good to be true … It probably is!


You’re asked to pay money in order to receive a prize or get a job.


You are pressured to pay for services or products only by “gift cards” or by wiring money or cryptocurrency.


You are pressured to act immediately.


Someone uses scare-tactics, e.g., saying that your loved one is in danger, or that your computer has been hacked, or threatening arrest if you don’t act immediately.


You’re asked to provide your Social Security #, passwords, or PIN #s.


The correspondence has lots of misspelled words and/or grammatical errors, aka “scammer grammar”.


The person or company promises “easy money” if you invest in their products / business.




Take 5 / Talk 2 Strategy — One of the best ways to protect yourself from scammers is to adopt the “Take 5 / Talk 2” strategy. This is a strategy that the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) received from our sister organization in Canada (Senior Resource Center Saint John, N.B.). It means making a commitment to yourself to take 5 minutes to chillout, then talk to 2 people, before you respond to an unsolicited text message, email, phone call that is alarming. This is a step that will help you “get out from under the ether” of a scammer’s intent to trick you into believing their lies. When we’re in a state of panic, we are not thinking clearly and tend to make poor choices. Taking 5 minutes to calm down and speak with at least 2 other people about the matter can help get us back on track, so we can assess the situation and act from a place of reason, not from fear.


Code Word — Another way to be pro-active and protect yourself from scammers, is to have a “code word” with family members, your spouse, and/or close friends. If you get an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be a loved one who is in some kind of trouble/emergency and needs your help right away, ask the caller for the “code word.” If the caller knows the “code word,” the call is legit. If the caller doesn’t know the “code word,” then the call is clearly a scam! Just hang up!


Report All Scams and/or Attempted Scams to the FTC — Reporting scams and attempted scams to the appropriate authorities is a vitally important step in protecting ourselves and the public from fraudsters. We cannot put a stop to scammers’ illegal and predatory activities unless law enforcement agencies are notified. Therefore, let’s make a commitment in 2024 to REPORT all scams to the FTC!


Attend an SSSAP Educational Presentation this Year — And last but not least, you are invited to attend our SSSAP educational presentations this year! We will announce SSSAP program events in this NBY column, so be on the lookout for info about upcoming performances. We would love to meet you there!


REMEMBER — Together, We Can Stop Senior Scams!



NBY Jan. 2023 – New Trends in Senior Scams 2023,

NBY Feb. 2023 – Romance Scams and the Fraud Prevention Act of 2022,

NBY March 2023 – Parking Lot Scams,

NBY April 2023 – AI ‘Voice Cloning’ Scams,

NBY May 2023 – Juice Jacking and Lottery Scams,

NBY June 2023 – Vacation / Travel Scams,

NBY July 2023 – Best Practices to Deter Scammers,

NBY Aug. 2023 – Skimming and Credit Union Imposter Scams,

NBY Sept. 2023 – A New Constant: Scams in Everyday Life,

NBY Oct. 2023 – Update – Why We ‘Blame the Victim’,

NBY Nov. 2023 – PayPal Scams and Mystery Gift Scams,

NBY Dec. 2023 – Fraud Prevention Habits for the Holidays,


Scam Glossary,

Glossary of Scams and Legal Terms,



“Red Flags of a Scam,” Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division,,you%20don’t%20act%20now

“How to Identify a Scammer: 8 Red Flags to Watch Out For”, by Scott Steinberg, Readers Digest, updated 7-10-23,



Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at

For questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, 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.




On Nov. 30, 2023, SSSAP presented its educational program at West Angeles Community Development Corporation (CDC), Senior Living Villas. Seen in Pic #1 (from left): Sherry McCoy, SSSAP Actor/Writer; Ann Stahl, SSSAP Educator; Anthony Anderson, Deputy for Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson; and Carolyn Patton, CDC.

Seen in Pic #2 (from left): Anthony Anderson, Deputy for Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson; LAPD Officer Agustin Lopez; LAPD Officer Andre Dixon; Sherry McCoy and Beverly Weir, SSSAP Actors; LAPD Officer Adaniz Cook; and Connie Johnson and Ron Sasiela, SSSAP Actors.


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

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 For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or

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