Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Imposters Using Iconic Commercial to Dupe Seniors
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Edited by Ryan Malavolta
Photography by Dan Dixon
(KUTV) Mike Roundy is hardly an immobile senior citizen. At 71, he rides his bike several miles every day around Pineview Reservoir near his Eden, Utah home.
“I've fallen off my bike a couple of times, but I don't just fall down. I can get back up,” Mike laughed.
So imagine Mike's surprise when he began getting calls claiming that someone had bought him a personal medical alert system; a system where he could push a button on a necklace for help in the case of a medical emergency.
"Again, it's already been paid for so there's no cost to you whatsoever," the message on Mike’s answering machine said.
Mike says he thought it was probably a scam but decided to play along and found himself transferred to a saleswoman.
"She wanted my name, address and credit card number,” Mike said. Mike says he asked why a credit card was needed and he says he was told that he would be responsible for monthly monitoring charges.
That doesn't sound like, "no cost whatsoever," so with that, Mike ended the call. Then he decided to Get Gephardt to investigate.
We began by looking into the company Life Alert which trademarked the phrase, "I've fallen, and I can't get up." But the call to Mike was not from them. Right on Life Alert's website they have issued a "fraud alert," claiming that "imposters" trying to "mislead and defraud customers."
We searched court records, which revealed that Life Alert is currently suing four different companies. The lawsuit says these, "robo-calls" for violating Life Alert's "trademark" to the phrase, "I've fallen and I can't get up."
As we dug deeper we discovered this is not a problem isolated to Utahns. Maine's attorney general has warned people to "be wary," referring to the calls as a "scam.”
Georgia's governor also warns that the calls are "intended to mislead and confuse the elderly."
As for Mike, neither he nor his wife are in need of a personal medical alert system. If they ever do find themselves in the market, they certainly won't be ordering one from a cold-calling-stranger asking for credit card information.
“I hope that people realize that if they get this, simply hang up. It's a scam," Mike said.
We did try to call the company accused of being the Life Alert imposter. We dialed the number that called Mike. It rang, then there was silence, then the phone call was disconnected.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)