Protecting Seniors from Scams: Lessons from Thelma Movie (2024)

6 min read
June 28, 2024 at 4:30 PM

This blog post contains detailed information about the movie "Thelma." While we aim to provide a comprehensive overview and analysis, please be aware that reading further may reveal key plot points and spoilers. If you have not yet seen the movie and wish to avoid any spoilers, we recommend watching the film first before proceeding with this blog post.

"Thelma" (2024) is a heartwarming and adventurous film about 93-year-old Thelma Post, who becomes the victim of one of the many senior citizen scams targeting this vulnerable population. This movie highlights the serious issue of scams targeting seniors, emphasizing the need for awareness and education. It is crucial for seniors to be made aware of these threats to protect themselves from becoming victims.

What Is the Movie Thelma (2024) About?

The 2024 movie titled “Thelma” tells the heartwarming and adventurous story of 93-year-old Thelma Post, a fiercely independent woman living in Los Angeles. Despite her loving relationship with her grandson Danny, Thelma finds his constant care slightly patronizing, yearning for a bit more independence in her twilight years.

The plot takes a dramatic turn when a phone scammer, posing as Danny, tricks Thelma into sending a hefty sum of money. Realizing she has been scammed and unable to get help from the police, Thelma decides to take matters into her own hands. Determined to retrieve her money, she embarks on a daring journey, evading her worried family.

Along the way, Thelma reconnects with Ben, an old friend she had distanced herself from, and together they navigate through challenges, including getting lost in a dangerous neighborhood and dealing with a destroyed scooter.

The climax of the movie sees Thelma and Ben tracking down the scammers to a rundown antique store. Here, Thelma confronts the mastermind behind the operation and, with some clever maneuvering, manages to reclaim her stolen money.

Where to Watch Thelma

"Thelma" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2024, and was later released in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2024. Magnolia Pictures is handling the distribution, and their films typically become available for streaming a few months after their theatrical release. If "Thelma" performs well at the box office, it may have an extended run in theaters compared to other Magnolia films. It is likely that "Thelma" will be available for streaming by late 2024 at the earliest.

Scams Targeting Seniors

In "Thelma," the protagonist's encounter with a phone scammer highlights a pressing issue that affects many seniors today. This scenario is, unfortunately, a reflection of real-life situations where scammers exploit the elderly, leveraging their trust and sometimes their isolation to commit fraud. Scammers often target seniors with various deceitful tactics, leveraging their vulnerability and trust. Here are some of the most common scams targeting seniors and how they are typically carried out:

1. Grandparent Scam

In this scam, the perpetrator calls the senior, pretending to be a grandchild in distress. They often claim to be in a dire situation, such as being arrested or stranded in a foreign country, and urgently needing money for bail, medical expenses, or travel. The emotional manipulation involved in these calls can be intense, causing seniors to act quickly without verifying the caller's identity.

2. Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

Scammers notify the senior that they have won a generous sum of money or a valuable prize, but to claim it, they must first pay a fee or taxes upfront. These notifications can come through phone calls, emails, or even letters. Once the fee is paid, the scammer disappears, and the promised prize never materializes.

3. Tech Support Scams

In this scenario, scammers pose as technical support agents from reputable companies, claiming that the senior's computer has a virus or another urgent issue. They then request remote access to the computer and either steal personal information or charge for unnecessary repairs and services. Sometimes, they may install malicious software to extract further data or hold the computer ransom.

4. Medicare and Health Insurance Scams

Since seniors are commonly enrolled in Medicare, scammers often pretend to be Medicare representatives to obtain personal information. They may ask for the senior’s Medicare number, claiming it is required for a new card or medical service, and then use this information to commit identity theft or fraudulent billing.

5. Investment Scams

Scammers offer seniors phony investment opportunities with the promise of high returns and low risk. These scams can range from fake real estate deals to nonexistent business ventures. Seniors looking to secure their financial future are lured into these schemes and end up losing their savings.

6. Elderly Care Scam Calls

In these scams, fraudsters call seniors posing as representatives from a home care service or nursing facility. They claim that there is an urgent issue with the senior's care plan or that additional services are required, which must be paid for immediately. The scammers often pressure the senior to provide credit card information or make a wire transfer to avoid interruption in their care, exploiting the senior's fear and concern for their well-being.

Compass Hosts Free Fraud Awareness for Seniors

Recognizing this growing threat, Peter Fellini, our AVP of Cybersecurity with Compass Cyber Guard has been actively engaging with the senior community to combat this issue. He has been visiting local senior centers to provide no-cost training sessions on identifying and avoiding common scams. These sessions cover a range of topics, including how to recognize fraudulent phone calls and emails, the importance of not sharing personal information, and steps to take if they suspect they have been targeted.

Fellini's initiative is crucial in empowering seniors with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves. By directly connecting with seniors in their communities, he not only educates but also reassures them that they are not alone in facing these challenges. The efforts of cybersecurity experts like Fellini play a significant role in safeguarding our elderly population, much like Thelma's journey in the movie emphasizes the strength and resilience of seniors when equipped with the right information and support.

Is Thelma Worth Watching?

Absolutely! "Thelma" is a must-see for its blend of humor, heart, and action. June Squibb shines in her first leading role, portraying a determined and spirited 93-year-old on a mission. The film, directed by Josh Margolin, uses the familiar tropes of action movies in clever and age-appropriate ways, delivering a unique and entertaining experience.

One of the standout aspects of "Thelma" is the impressive stunt work performed by Squibb herself. Despite being in her 90s, Squibb tackled many of her own stunts, including physically demanding scenes on a motor scooter and in an antique store. Her energy and commitment bring an authentic and exhilarating touch to the film.

The movie has received critical acclaim, boasting a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and an audience score of 83%). It has been particularly praised for its empowering portrayal of an elderly protagonist and its ability to tackle serious themes with infectious humor. While the film contains some strong language, making it unsuitable for children, it offers a refreshing and joyful viewing experience that resonates with audiences of all ages. If you are looking for a film that combines comedy, action, and heartfelt moments, "Thelma" is definitely worth watching.

Closing Thoughts

The prevalence of senior citizen scams, as illustrated in "Thelma," underscores the critical need for awareness and education among the elderly. These scams are a growing menace, targeting the most vulnerable members of our society. It is crucial to inform seniors about these threats to help them protect themselves from becoming victims. Many seniors are isolated and may not be as familiar with the latest technologies or the sophisticated methods that scammers use today. This makes them prime targets for fraudsters who exploit their trust and goodwill.

By understanding the tactics used by scammers and knowing how to respond, seniors can safeguard their personal information and financial security. Education is key; it empowers seniors to recognize red flags and take preventive measures. For example, knowing never to give out personal information over the phone or to unsolicited callers, understanding that legitimate organizations will never ask for payment through unconventional means like gift cards, and being aware of common scam scenarios can make a significant difference. Additionally, having regular discussions about these topics with family members, friends, or community groups can reinforce this knowledge and create a supportive network that helps protect against fraud.

Moreover, community initiatives that focus on scam awareness and prevention are vital. Workshops, seminars, and informational sessions tailored to seniors can provide them with the tools and confidence they need to navigate these threats. By fostering a culture of vigilance and education, we can significantly reduce the incidence of senior citizen scams and help our elderly population live more secure and confident lives.

In addition to offering no-cost training sessions for seniors, Compass provides comprehensive security awareness training and testing for organizations. These programs are meticulously designed to equip staff with the necessary skills to recognize and respond to a wide array of scams and threats effectively. This includes training on identifying phishing attempts, securing sensitive information, and understanding the latest cybersecurity risks. By fostering a culture of vigilance and proactive defense, Compass ensures that employees are not only aware of potential threats but are also prepared to take appropriate action to mitigate risks.

Contact us today to discuss the cybersecurity challenges your organization is facing and learn how Compass can help you build a robust defense against potential threats.

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