By Liz Collin

LITCHFIELD (WCCO) — A Litchfield man thought he was doing some good when he sent money to so-called charities. Instead, he lost nearly $20,000 dollars.

For nearly four months, 85-year-old Calvin Arvidson began responding to letters from what he thought were charities, including children with cancer and veterans groups. He ended up writing 150 checks and spent $7,500.

“I thought I was doing something good,” Arvidson said.

However, in February, when Arvidson wanted to sell his home, his stepdaughter, Linda Kmitch, needed to look at his checking account. She found some that the “charities” were taking money out of Arvidson’s account automatically.

“We found this out accidentally. That’s the worst part of it,” Kmitch said.

When she tried to stop payment, companies would change their names to get by the system.

“In four months, it was $19,000,” Kmitch said.

For months, Kmitch has had to sort through her stepdad’s junk mail.

Arvidson would initially get about two pieces of junk mail a day. When he started responding and sending money back, it turned into 20 pieces of mail. Then Arvidson began getting phone calls.

“We had to change his phone number,” Kmitch said. “Ten harassing calls a day.”

He eventually had to close his checking account. Kmitch is now making sure Arvidson throws most of his mail away.

“I think many elderly are being scammed in this way,” Kmitch said.

When Kmitch told police about what happened, they told her there’s not really much she can do. An officer thinks the companies were selling Arvidson’s name to other companies.

There are a couple things you can do to cut back on junk mail and you can find that information here.

Liz Collin

Comments (22)
  1. Sarah in Outstate MN says:

    How sad. He can file a report with the police, show this to his bank, the bank will investigate and he should be able to recover some money due to fraud. If his daughter is reading this please look into this. I am former bank manager.

    1. Carl says:

      Interesting. Are banks and Credit Unions insured against this type of loss? I’m sure this man’s money has already passed through banks in China, North Africa or Eastern Europe and into the thieves hands. Can the bank just chalk up some portion of the $19,000 as a loss? Just wondering.

      1. Sarah says:

        Banks are insured against this type of loss. I am not sure about the dollar amount, but he could get some back.

    2. Bella Notte says:

      Yeah, it’s been done, with 0 results. File away, thesse scammers can get away with it. BTW, how much does the bank charge to investigate while the pollice find no leads they can act upon? Just wondering. Because 2 of my friends have been harrassed by so-called collection representatives regarding credit cards they never had. One was desperate enough for a new job that she trusted a Secret Shopper offer which turned out to be a money-wiring scam. So far, not one agency she reported it to, including the local law enforcement, can do a thing.

      1. Sarah says:

        Bella, even I had someone do an unauthorized withdrawal from my bank account and I retrieved my money. It may take a few weeks for an investigation, but I got all of it back, but that was only a few hundred dollars. However, I need to add that the investigation was internal. The police probably cannot do much about it. The retrieved money comes from the banks insurance loss policy that all banks are required by FDIC insurance to have. The amount depends upon your banks policy regarding such losses. If the amount is under a certain dollar amount then your friend may receive all of her money or part of her money. I don’t know the formula for it. Have your friend take the police report to her bank to contest the withdrawals. The bank will start an investigation of their own and your friend should get her money back or a percentage of her money back. Good luck.

        I had several customers get their money back too. We charged nothing for it. Banks are insured for this type of loss. I am sorry about your friend.

  2. M B says:

    I feel bad for this guy. People are such phenomenal lowlifes to be doing this kind of thing to our elderly.

    “Companies” like this are why I have an across the board “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” policy. If you contact me or send me junk, you automatically are out of the running and will never get my business.

    The scams I hate the most are those automated calls saying “This is xy from cardholder services, there is no problem with your account, but it is urgent you call us concerning lowering your interest rates.” Yeah, sure it is.

  3. D G says:

    How can we as a public help prevent this? Is there a way we could all help our family, friends & neighbors? Help educate those around us, Maybe talk to them, and let them know what the dangers are, and if they get calls like this, have them take down the callers info, and tell them they will get back to them. Then give the info you, and You could check it out for them, and get back to them. If it is a legit business/organization/charity, they would have no problem with that, and you should be able to find info on them fairly easily.

    1. Rights says:

      The best way to stop this is to live with youir parents. Americans dump their elders in nursing homes, or leave them to live alone in their homes, and when they get scammed, robbed or die in negligence, they say how can this happen?
      well, its your fault. did they leave you to live alone when you were a baby?

  4. Menzies says:

    People have to be AWARE of these operations. He was just plain stupid in this case.

    1. Lores says:

      Remind me of that when you are 85!!

  5. shirley says:

    Senior’s have to start going through their mail & sort out this junk,,,if their not able to do this ,have your kids or grandkids check it out BEFORE you write that check out.The worse the financial times the more people are thinking about ways to scam ya. Look at those who are backing sara palin,she’s taking her family on vacation! WAKE UP AMERICA!

  6. Trimom says: are an insensitive jerk. Hopefully there is a special place in hell for these types of evil people taking advantage of the elderly. So sad for him.

  7. How can a person be so dumb? says:

    Insensitive or not, the guy was plain old stupid- A fool and his money are soon parted as the saying goes. GULLIBLE!!!!

    1. Lores says:

      Excuse me… have you ever been 85.. and had a kind heart???

  8. Elenute Nicola says:

    I have an elderly family member who continues to be scammed by “contests” to win huge sums of money. She has lost huge sums of money, and her name must be on every mailing list of every crook in and outside the US. It is a nightmare.

  9. Tony says:

    I would like to send Calvin a check. Anyone know how we as as a community can help him. Thsi story goes to show that> No good deed goes unpunsihed!

  10. Elmo says:

    I had to move back to my mom’s. I noticed all her calls where from Charities such as Firemans Association, Police Academy, Readers Digest. Daily they called, and her mail full of junk. So I wrote Deceased on the letters, and they stopped. Also got rid of her land line phone. Her life is normal again.

  11. Peter says:

    CBS should publish a list of all of the so-called charities that fleeced him. The IRS should investigate everyone of the charities for ligitimacy, pull their nonprofit status. The priority fo the police should be questioned. It sounds like grand theft.

    1. Willow says:

      Excellent idea.

  12. St Paul says:

    I was involved in a scam about a hear ago. It was online and taken from my bank account. Thank goodness I bank at Wells Fargo. I reported this and they looked into it. In 3 months the scam stopped and I got all my money back from Wells. Mine was a happy ending. Wish this man’s story ends up well too.