Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Author Art Maines: Lessons Learned While Writing Scammed

Daily we are bombarded with scams, especially through emails, and unfortunately the elderly are a prime target with one in five in the U.S. becoming a victim. With that in mind, I’m delighted to be a part of author Art Maines’ Premier Virtual Book Tour for his current release, SCAMMED, and welcome him here to talk about his experience.

Here’s a brief description of his book:
     When author Art Maines' beloved stepfather Bill was cheated out of thousands of dollars, Art went on a mission to ensure no other family experiences this tragic crime.
     In SCAMMED, Art provides a three step scam prevention and recovery program, based on his training as a social worker, therapist, and his extensive research. Suitable for seniors or children of elderly parents, SCAMMED will help you.
     * Understand the most common types of scams.
     * Learn the psychological ploys used by scammers so that you can spot a scammer immediately.
     * Create a scam prevention plan.
     * Recover from a scam with your dignity intact.
     * Use the resources in your community if you suspect a scam.

Art shares with us the lessons he learned while writing SCAMMED.

After my stepfather Bill was the victim of multiple scams, I was shocked and angry. I wondered how anyone could take advantage of a senior citizen who had no opportunity to replace the moneys lost in multiple frauds. In my quest to help him get justice and try to recover, financially and emotionally, I spoke with many attorneys, law enforcement officials, and representatives of financial institutions. The process of scam recovery too longer than I ever anticipated and was extremely time consuming. I wished there was an expert who could tell me what to do to help Bill.

After the crisis in our family abated a bit, I started to consult with other mental health professionals and geriatric experts to determine the severity of this problem. I was surprised to learn how prevalent elder fraud has become. As I dug deeper into the psychology of scammers and some of the characteristics of seniors which make them especially susceptible to scams, I realized this information needed to be available to the general public so I decided to write my book Scammed: 3 Steps to Help Your Elder Parents and Yourself.

I’d written professional articles and reports before but this was my first book. One of the first things I had to do was talk to Bill and ensure that it would be alright with him if I shared his story. I did not want to embarrass him. He already had enough shame and guilt about falling for the scammers. Thankfully, Bill realized that he had an opportunity to prevent other elders from being taken advantage of with this book so he gave me his blessing to tell his story with full details.

Next, I did extensive research. My graduate school experience was helpful as I was able to access professional journals and scholarly research to understand the science behind scams and how to best help seniors recover from such a traumatic event. I had my own ideas based on my experience but I wanted to make sure that research backed up my conclusions. I also was fortunate enough to interview some outstanding law enforcement professionals, attorneys, and geriatric financial planners who gave me additional information to make my book more useful.

Writing the book took longer than expected. I’m sure that’s true for every first time author. Between my private practice and familycover obligations, I keep very busy so it was a challenge to find time to work on the book. I found that my best writing time was on the weekends. I worked with a developmental editor who helped me with the structure of the book and kept me on track when I wanted to give up. That support was extremely helpful as was the support of my family and friends.

While I was writing I started doing presentations on Elder Fraud in a variety of settings. These presentations were extremely helpful. They helped me see how eager people were to have a resource like Scammed and showed me where I needed to add additional information based on the questions I was getting during the presentations. I would suggest that every author begin to speak on his or her topic during the writing process.  

Once the book was written, I worked with a boutique publishing house who could publish the book for me quickly. I did not want to make the public wait for the information while I got an agent and sought a traditional publishing contract. The editing, design, and production of my book took about six months.

It was a thrilling day when my first case of books arrived!  

Now I am busy marketing my book via speaking engagements, blog tours, a new website, and publicity. Again, it is a challenge to fit all these activities into my busy schedule. However, the initial feedback regarding Scammed has been so positive that it gives me energy to devote as much time as possible to making sure no other senior has to suffer like Bill did.

Art, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing how your book came about. It is a shame that so many elderly are victims of scams each day. Your book is a good resource for those dealing with this tragic situation. 

Art Maines, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, speaker, and expert in elderly fraud recovery and prevention.  He earned his Master's Degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  Art and his stepfather Bill live in St. Louis. 

Here’s what others are saying about SCAMMED:
     "Just finished reading this book. this would be a great resource for people finding themselves in the unenviable position of being scammed or finding that they have a parent who has been scammed. It is packed full of practical, clear advice on what steps to take when you don't know where to turn or how to get started on recovering from being scammed. This book also gives valuable direction on how to be proactive and to get started on protecting yourself or your parent from becoming a scam victim."  -- Peggy I. Montgomery, Amazon.com Reviewer 

     "An excellent guide to helping your parent avoid predators." -- N. Kortner Nygard, Ph.D., Geriatric Psychologist 
     "A wealth of advice to help heal the emotional and physical aftermath of scams." -- Jennifer L. Abel, Ph.D., author of Active Relaxation 
     "A simple breakdown of scams that target the elderly with a battle plan to protect and prevent" -- Detective Joe Roubicek, Author of Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective's Case Files of Exploitation Crimes
     "This is an important book for anyone with elderly parents." -- Gregory W. Lester, Ph.D.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you know someone who has been touched by a scam? Do you have any tips to avoid scams?
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  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Art.

    Art - Thanks for sharing the story of how Scammed came to be published. Thanks also for calling attention to the serious issue of elder fraud. It is a major problem in this country and I'm sure in others too.

  2. This is a book that's definitely needed. Not only are the elderly scammed with disreputable firms but they often pay more than they should on medical bills and fees, because the statements are so confusing for even the most savvy person.

  3. Art, thanks again for sharing this with us. Scams against the elderly seem to be on the increase and we need all the information we can get to combat them. Wishing you much success.

  4. Margot and Ann, thanks to both of you for stopping by.

  5. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour and hosting Art!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.