Senior citizens being targeted to sell homes by deceptive ads

It's a scam targeting elderly home owners in the District. Investors are mailing deceptive ads to senior citizens, trying to get them to sell their homes.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Shirley Rivens Smith has lived in her Woodridge neighborhood for decades. She says the area is a hidden gem. 

"I would say we're about 75 percent senior citizens," said Rivens Smith.

The only complaint she has about the neighborhood is the flood of letters and ads she and her neighbors get constantly. 

"Only the houses where seniors live get them. Your address is on there, your name is on there, so they're sending it directly to you and that's what's so frightening," she said. 

The flyers use language like "urgent" and "final notice. The ads are scaring some into thinking they are at risk of losing their homes. The ads, sent by investment companies essentially try to trick senior citizens into selling their homes below market price. It's happening especially in neighborhoods where property values are on the rise. 

Cleveland Leggett and his wife have lived in their home for more than 40 years. He receives the flyers on a regular basis. 

"I have one right here I got Monday of last week. They come weekly, but I just throw them in the trash," said Leggett. 

D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie recently introduced a bill that would ban such companies from sending out such deceptive ads. 

"This bill would give the attorney general the authority under our consumer protection laws to go after these bad actors," said McDuffie. 

If you receive any of these flyers you should just ignore them. However, Councilmember McDuffies office is asking residents who receive them to hold on to them to bring to any public hearing on the issue in the future.

© 2018 WUSA-TV


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