Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tis the Season for SCAMMERS: The Grandparent Scam

Solomon's Happy Hill Farm

My 87-year-old father is now bedridden. Daddy grew up dirt poor, but in more ways than one he’ll leave this world a wealthy man. Sadly, he is no longer able to ride around the farmland he accumulated during his lifetime. His body is failing him, but mentally he’s still nobody’s fool.

Like most people in his age bracket he still has a landline telephone. Despite being on the DO NOT CALL register, he receives a call about once a week from someone, somewhere, trying to swindle him out of money.

These days the TV and these phone calls are about the only entertainment he has; he likes sparring with the scammers, and enjoys laughing into the telephone receiver before he slams it down.


I can attest that the only people losing their minds at my father's house are the people taking care of him. My father is anything but gullible, which is why I'm sharing this story.

On November 13th my parents were targeted by telephone scammers using the Grandparent Scam. If you have aging parents with grandchildren they love dearly but aren’t in contact with on a daily basis, or have always lived in another state, you need to know about this scam!

As luck would have it, I was visiting my parents at their home in Florida when it appeared my 25-year-old son Jordan phoned from North Carolina. Both my parents answered the phone. My mother answered in the family room, where I was typing an email, and my father from his bedroom.

I wondered if Jordan had forgotten I was there, as he hadn’t called on my cell, but it’s not uncommon for him to call to talk to his grandfather especially since he’s been sick. I heard my mom say, “You sound as if you have a cold, Jordan.” Then, “I’m going to hang up so you can hear Granddaddy better.”

Then she turned to me and said, “Jordan sounded like he’s sick with a cold too.” One of her other grandsons who resides nearby had been sick with a cold all week.

We were too far away to hear the words spoken by my father, but I could hear the tone of his voice. He’d been talking for a while when I thought I heard him call me, but maybe it was just mother’s instinct. I put down my laptop, went to his bedroom, and knew immediately from the expression on his face that something was wrong.

He was still on the phone, and fumbled with it before telling me to sit down. He had something to tell me, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay. Just sit down.” He appeared to still be on the phone with Jordan.

I was on my way to sit down but immediately stood up and told him whatever was wrong to spit it out!!

Jordan had been arrested, my father said. I was suddenly sick to my stomach. My father told me that morning Jordan woke up sick, and had asked a friend to drive him; he didn’t know if it was to work or to get something for his cold. He and his friend had been pulled over by law enforcement, the car was searched, drugs were found, and he was in jail.

Jordan 
He had assured my dad he was innocent. He had been appointed a female attorney who had been helpful. She was going to get him out of jail, but it was going to cost $9000.00 for bail. That’s why he was calling his granddaddy, he needed money, and he asked that he please keep it between the two of them.

The female attorney would call his granddaddy once they hung up, and give him instructions on how to send the money.

Everything about this story sounded plausible.

I took the phone from my father, sick with worry and prepared to interrogate. However, the line was dead. My father worried aloud that he’d betrayed Jordan’s trust by telling me what was going on.

My father did not want his grandson to spend a single night or day in jail. Nor did he want him to pay a bail bondsman. He views that as a scam. We waited for the attorney to call back…

When she didn’t call back pronto, my father insisted I call the county courthouse to find out where Jordan was being held, and what we needed to do to get him released.

I called every possible courthouse (4) near where my son lives and works in North Carolina. He wasn’t at any of them. The clerk at the very first courthouse I called asked me if I was sure he was in jail, as there was a scam going around where relatives were told their family members were in jail and needed money. I thought to myself, I wish, but my parents know Jordan’s voice. It’s deep and distinctive I had been sitting near my mom-and although I didn’t talk to him I thought it had sounded like him from where I was sitting.

I relayed what the clerk said to my dad, but he was sure that it was Jordan he spoke to, and both my parents had talked to Jordan. One of my dad’s caregivers was with my mom, so I didn’t want to divulge why I was questioning her, but when I asked her how he sounded, she said fine – except he had a cold.

Afterwards I would learn that my mother held the one clue that this Jordan was an imposter.

However, right then everything about Jordan being arrested sounded plausible even to me, but much less his grandparents.

A few months earlier, Jordan moved to a new residence. He had told us his former roommates were involved with drugs, and they were bringing them into the house they all rented. I had been relieved that he'd moved, but now I wondered, and worried if this had anything to do with his arrest.

Both my children are in NC, and my husband and I had just returned from visiting them. Our daughter Tabitha is a grad student at UNC, and Jordan lives and works not far from where she does. They’re very close and get together often.

Jordan works as an electrical apprentice, but he had asked his boss to cut his hours. He wanted to use his off time to study for the GRE. He likes his job, but his major is biology. At the time I was happy to hear he was considering going back to school.

Now that time off from work had me worried. Was he on his way to work or somewhere else when they got pulled over? Who’s car?  

Jordan knew how sick his granddaddy was, and there was no way he would call him for money. I would have thought his sister would have been the first person he would call, except he knows she’s broke or, God forbid, he wasn’t as innocent as he professed.

I called Tabitha. She had just seen him the night before, but she had no idea if he was working that day or not. Like me, she was familiar with the former roommate situation, and it worried her. He had been working a lot of overtime, and she wondered why he didn’t have his own money to make bail.

Then I called my husband, Randy. I made a hectic schedule of 12 hour days that much worse. My husband was dumbfounded, he thought Jordan had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If it could happen, it would happen to Jordan. He’s that kid!

Jordan wasn’t at any of the courthouses I had phoned. So what county was he in? Could that be why he didn’t call one of us? We knew where he should be. My husband told me not to jump to conclusions or worry about it until I talked to our son.

I tried Jordan’s cell, but I didn’t expect him to answer if he was in jail. On a whim I sent a text to his phone to call me ASAP. Five minutes later my cell phone rang and it was my son.

I didn’t bother with formalities, but asked, “Where are you Jordan?” to which he replied he was at work and had been all day. I think my next question was, “Are you sure?” and then I asked, “Do you have a cold?”

The first thing I noticed was he did not. Nor did he sound at all distressed. It only took the first question for my son to know that something was wrong, but to his credit he waited before asking what was going on.

My son is a charismatic, intellectually gifted young man who loves his family, but it’s not the first time we’ve been worried sick on our end about Jordan, while he’s doing business as usual and clueless about it. My dad says Jordan could write a book. Lord knows I have a bookshelf of journals filled with his escapades.

I passed the phone to my father, who retold what the Jordan imposter had said to him. He wanted to make darn sure that Jordan was okay. My son assured my dad he was not in jail; he had been at work all day.

I told Jordan to call his sister immediately, and I would call his dad. Nothing makes you realize how little a job matters like getting a phone call that one of your children is in trouble. I enjoyed making that call!

Later Jordan called his granddaddy and I back and assured us he was indeed alright. My first thought was someone he’s acquainted with may have tried to extort money from his grandfather. However, he had already figured out it was a scam targeting older people. The information they had just took a quick google search.

Jordan assured my dad he was okay, and he was not at all upset that he had told me what was going on. There was nothing he couldn’t talk to his parents about, but if he ever did have a secret he knew who to trust with it. He was so appreciative that my dad was going to send him the money.

I apologized to Jordan that I didn’t recognize it as a con, and had doubted him even a little bit.

My son is well aware I was making plans to bail him out of jail in NC, and banish him to basement hell in TN. Yet, he told me he understood why we fell for it, and it made him and his sister feel good to know if either of them were indeed in that kind of trouble we would be there for them. A huge indication of how grown-up they are. It wasn’t that long ago they would have called me an overbearing, helicopter mother.

Neither the Jordan imposter nor his fake attorney called my dad back. I suspect when they discovered his mother was there they knew the gig was up.

My dad insisted the imposter’s voice sounded like Jordan, and so did my mom. In retrospect the only clue offered to my parents was how the imposter had addressed my mother.

When she answered he said, “How are you doing Grandma, it’s Jordan.” Her grandchildren would never call her grandma, they call her granny, but that didn’t register at the time. My dad had answered too, so she said, "I’ll hang up and let you talk to Granddaddy." So the imposter now knew exactly how to address my father.

This scam has been going on for years, but the con artists are getting more sophisticated and technology is making things like voice manipulation easier. My parents are not the only grandparents targeted by this con to say the caller sounded just like their grandchild.

The clerk at the courthouse in NC said it was doubtful that anything the scammers provided would be traceable.

The Grandparent Scam hit all the right buttons. There was no way my father was going to let Jordan spend a night in jail. He was ready to send my mother to the bank to wire him the money. I’m sure he would have told her to not to tell a soul, and she would have complied. My dad loves to talk about other people’s families, but any dirt (or jail time) within his own family he’s prepared to take to his grave. The same can be said for my mother.

Eventually the real Jordan would have phoned my dad, and my father would have figured out he had been scammed. If you know my dad, you know that would have been as bad as finding out his grandson had been arrested.


My parent's, Preston & Patricia Solomon. With their grandchildren:
Jordan, J.P., Levi, and Tabitha. Not pictured is Makenna. Photo was taken
several years ago-in Tabitha's case that's several hairstyles ago. 

My father is not a stingy man, he can be very generous to people in need or anyone he cares about. The con may have ended sooner if Fake Jordan had asked his sweet grandma for the money. Heehee.

Going forward, if any of his other grandchildren need to borrow money to make bail, they best be prepared to be interrogated, and then expect a personal visit from his banking liaison before receiving any funds.

2017 has been a long year, filled with tragedy, health issues, and worries brought on by Mother Nature. However, this experience incited us to remember we still have much to be grateful for. My father still has his money, my son’s not in jail, and once again the people at Frahm haus have been reminded that family is what matters most.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How 17 Under-50 Women Learned They Had Breast Cancer

Amelia Frahm

People- especially other writers- are always curious about how I became a children's book writer, and surprised to discover it may never have happened if not for breast cancer.

While I was on the mend, (and unable to do much else) from my recent implant surgery, I shared my story about how I learned I had breast cancer with Jenn Sinrich a writer for Reader's Digest. My story is included along with 16 other inspiring women who are surviving breast cancer: 







A cancer diagnosis is anything but easy—and, while it can change a person's life in a million ways, just one of those might be for the better. Read these inspiring stories of strong survivors whose breast cancer fueled them to become "thrivers."

How 17 Under-50 Women Learned They Had Breast Cancer-and What Helped Them Through It

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pink Pumpkins and Plastic Surgery: Life with Breast Cancer



My life since cancer is like a TV sitcom. One of those ridiculously funny episodes the audience thinks has to be a fabrication.

Only in my case it’s not.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the witch at Frahmhaus (that would be me) is reveling in the magic of mammograms, plastic surgery, and pink pumpkins! 

Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy was released October 2011, and since then the month of October has been filled with orange Jack-o-lanterns, pink pumpkins, and the type of laughter found at insane asylums. 

After all, October is the month for tricks and treats. I’d bet that was not lost on the soul that selected it to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer -like Halloween- can be tricky. 


It has been 23 years since my breast cancer diagnosis, and I had never felt better...until I went to put on the dress you see pictured here, and discovered one of my implants had ruptured. 

I'm a good example of why early detection is important, and breast cancer survivors should never get too smug. Breast cancer likes to sneak up on you, and remind you of how scary life could be. Recurrence is always an option. 

I spent early October doing the walk of shame into a plastic surgeon's office, where I had to confess my mammogram was overdue.

I'm spending the latter part of October recuperating from surgery, grateful that my mammogram showed nothing worse than a ruptured implant, and aspiring to outlive the new ones!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Why Nuclear? The American Nuclear Society has Answers!


My why can be found on the American Nuclear Society Facebook profile page (ANS) of which I'm proud to be a member.

The ANS is an organization devoted to peaceful, and beneficial applications of nuclear science and technology.

If you are looking for reliable, and credible information about nuclear power the ANS is a good place to begin your research.

If you're looking for something educational to do with the kids this summer check out their Nuclear Explorers Program.  Or run a quick google search to see if there's a nuclear plant near where you live that offers children's programs such as the Girl Scout Get to Know Nuclear Badge.

Presenting to students 



My own children, spent many a summer at the Harris Energy & Environmental Center in North Carolina, helping me develop my children's story on nuclear power plants.







Tabitha & her friend James



Before the illustrations were completed for Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! we used puppets to entertain the audience of summer science camp students we called lab rats.





with staff member Kim Crawford 


My children enjoyed the exhibits, loved the staff,








Jordan Frahm


and in hindsight being required to help their mom do research marketing for her children's book wasn't so bad either!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Marching for Science




Geilesha Kurfman and Amelia Frahm 

Here I am, along with my new friend Geilesha Kurfman, and more than 500 other people on a rainy Earth Day 2017, attending the March for Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

I had hoped to blog, and publish the following photos immediately following the science march. However, my dad was hospitalized, and I've spent the last several weeks in my home state of Florida.

Anyone who thinks I should have been able keep abreast of social media from my father's hospital room has never had my daddy for a patient.

My dad's better, and I'm back in Tennessee.  Here's a glimpse of some of the people, places, and activities that helped make the March for Science successful.


Prior to the Knoxville march an open meeting and sign making event was hosted by our fearless University of Tennessee STEM leaders Dr. Ben Allen, and Simone Godwin.

Ben is pictured in the upper left corner along with Geilesha, and Simone is in the lower right photo.

These two did a fantastic job spearheading the march.  I wish I had captured the touching speech Simone gave the day of the march on what it means to be a female/lesbian STEM.







Simone is 25 years old, and I couldn't help but reflect on the vast differences that have taken place since I was 25. (I'm 57 years old.) STEMS were usually men and everyone was in the closet!






My home is located between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee.  My plan was to spend the AM in Knoxville and the PM in Chattanooga.  That didn't work out due to worn out tires, and rainy weather, but I was able to participate in Chattanooga's Earth Day via Growability's silent auction.



Growability is a non-profit located in the heart of Chattanooga. They grow food, skills, and jobs! Their focus is to empower and employ people with disabilities.

I donated a gift basket which included books, and an author school program/presentation.

I'm looking forward to participating in another of their events: the grand opening of  Cafe F'rall! According to the website it's an affordable cafe which will offer job training to people with disabilities.


The Knoxville March for Science took place on Saturday, April 22, 2017 on Earth Day.


Knoxville's March for Science began at UT's Ayres Hall.

Representatives for the Association of Women in Science. (AWIS)  




















Of course any sign with an atom caught my attention.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this Librarian.
I sent it to my daughter who's a CALA at UNC, Chapel Hill.



















Marching pass a Knoxville landmark-
the Sunsphere.



My neighbor who is a retired science teacher.

There were over 500 people at the march, I  can count on one hand the number of people I'm acquainted with in East Tennessee, and one finger the number I assumed would be Marching for Science. So I was delighted to run into my neighbor, Hardy DeYoung. I may have misjudged my neighborhood. 


Jordan and Tabitha Frahm

Meanwhile in North Carolina these two  participated in the Raleigh March for Science. I have to admit it's a great slogan on their poster. However, I understand now why when I was in college my father changed the word hell to heck in the article I submitted via him to the local hometown newspaper. I finally forgive you Daddy! 


As Fox Moulder knows: the truth it's out there! Neil
Degrasse Tyson knows science can prove it.




                 




The reason I marched! Now available on Kindle. 

Special thanks to the American Nuclear Society for featuring my story: Why I will "March for Science" on the ANS Cafe: All things Nuclear blog.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Nuclear Plant Issues SCRAM Alert Due to March for Science

                          

Thanks to ANS Nuclear Cafe: All things Nuclear   for featuring my story. This blog is an unedited version of the article seen in ANS Nuclear Cafe which depicts what happened during the release of my children's book, why I feel compelled to participate in the March for Science, AND why I will always be grateful to my colleagues in the nuclear industry!


Nukie Nuclear Power Plant has issued a SCRAM alert and an emergency shutdown has been declared due to a mandatory employee science march.

This is not a fake news story, but my sitcom of a real life as the author of a children’s picture book about nuclear power plants, and why I’m crawling out from under the proverbial (uranium) rock I’ve been hiding under to March for Science.

In case you don’t remember, I’m Amelia Frahm,  the disgusting example of motherhood, or as I refer to myself, writer, educator, and cancer survivor who wrote the children’s picture book  Nuclear Power: How a NuclearPower Plant Really Works! 

As a fiction writer of factual topics, the best way to authenticate anything I write about or critics taunt me about is by supplying factual information provided by people who are experts in the sciences.

In the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster I released a children’s book I hoped would incite the curiosity of children, who like me, were not technically inclined. It was intended as a resource to explain the basic operation of a nuclear power plant.  If ever there was a time that children might need an explanation about how a nuclear power plant operates, I thought post-Fukushima would be it. 

Instead the book was called nuclear propaganda for children. I was called everything from morally bankrupt to an unfit mother, and one person went so far as to call me a nuclear pedophile. I was proclaimed a sick, confused, cancer victim (not survivor) who should be ashamed of herself for promoting the very thing that caused her cancer. 

My reputation as an author —and even mother—was smeared by people who literally did judge a book by its cover and would choose censorship over education.

The cat that provoked the bird and rat.
The book that provoked this social media speculation, exaggeration, and downright hatred was a picture book about a bird and a rat who speculate, exaggerate, and blame anything they don’t understand about the Nukie Nuclear Power Plant on a cat they don’t know personally, but dislike anyway.

I could see the humor in it, but not enough to negate the nausea I felt reading comments like:

“I’ve taught my kids to be scared witless of nuclear power!” “You cannot be serious!  How evil are you?”   “…disgusting example of motherhood.”

It was the STEMS who defended me by pointing out that disagreeing about an issue is not a reason to censor the topic, but rather the reason it should be studied.

My defenders were tough, articulate and seasoned nuclear professionals, who I will forever be grateful to, because in 2011, I was unprepared for the hatefulness exhibited by grown ups who would censor a children's book based on its title and topic. 

I soon discovered that the very credentials that made my STEM colleagues knowledgeable about nuclear power plants were pointed to with disdain and used as a tactic to provoke suspicion by people who disagreed with them. 



These tactics are especially effectual when the boring truth is just not as captivating as attention-seeking, inflammatory sound bites like the one below directed at me.

“Once you’re done convincing your kids that nuclear power is totally safe you can buy her other book to explain the unfortunate cancer it gave them!”  

I understand why people would look at a nuclear power plant and be scared witless in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster; I feel the same way every time a plane crashes, despite having once worked as a flight attendant.

What I cannot stand, and crawled out from under my uranium rock to help prevent, is using fear to censor science.  Especially when factual information provided by scientific research or even a contentious children’s picture book could potentially lessen those fears.

When you give a child a lesson plan or a picture book, often the parent learns something as well.  That is a problem for people whose opinions are based on alternative facts, and like the characters in my “Nuke” book feel compelled to denounce what they know nothing about. 

I've reaped a lot of fruit due to ignorance. It’s not easy to rinse out the lingering taste of embarrassment, so maybe this judgmental assumption will prove true:

“Someday you’ll reap the fruits of your ignorance but [sic] you probably won’t even know it.” 

My ignorant opinion is that before anyone be allowed to censor anything—be it science or a children’s picture book—they should first be required to visit a library, read books from both sides of the aisle, do their own scientific research, and write their own darn book. 

As it says in my book, “It took them a while to figure out they were arguing over something they agreed about.”

Most of us do want the same things, like a healthy earth and better future for our children. We just disagree about how to achieve them. Provided we don’t silence it, science will tell us which direction to march. Those of us participating in the March for Science believe that direction is forward!

The March for Science will take place  April 22, 2017 on Earth Day.

More on my experiences publishing my children's book about nuclear power plants can be found by visiting: Go Nuclear or Environmentalist for Nuclear.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Discovering the Life I was Meant to Life: My story in Coping Magazine

Welcome to my blog!  

If you’re visiting because you read about me in the March/April edition of Coping Magazine and are curious about my children’s cancer book you may find it by visiting Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy (Available FREE on Kindle April 1-3) or for information about Crack Open a Book! link to School Programs. The curriculum is available at no cost to non-profits or anyone who lists the book in their resource library.

As the article in Coping Magazine said, I didn’t get the life I thought I wanted, but the one I was meant to live.  It appears I’m meant to do everything I declared I would never do.

When I said, my cancer diagnosis set me on a course for a career I never planned, and even prepared me for the nausea that accompanied it, I meant it literally!   If you read the article in Coping then you know it was my experience with cancer and the lack of resources that were available to me as a mother with young children that inspired me to write the Tickles Tabitha story. 
Available FREE on Kindle
April 1-3 

I’m also the author of a children’s picture book about…drumroll…nuclear power plants.

With my career and reputation as a cancer awareness author and advocate it was a huge surprise to even some of my closest friends when a decade after my first title was published I released Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! © 2011.

My technically inclined son, Jordan is rolling his eyes, and any former science teachers are wondering who the ghostwriter was. One of the things I enjoyed most about college was that my major had zip to do with science, technology, engineering and math.
On Kindle for a limited time at $1.99


Consequently my very first professional job after college was doing public relations at a nuclear power plant, surrounded by STEM professionals.

One of my job assignments was to do an elementary school program about how a nuclear power plant would work. To haul all the school program equipment I drove a van, and once they even leased a station wagon for me. A colleague ribbed me about it, and my infamous response was the last thing I ever wanted was a wagon load of kids to haul around.

Several years later I was driving down the road in a Jeep with my own two kids strapped in the back seat.  Every day I do something I was never going to do! Like all the writing, self-promotions and public speaking gigs necessary to sell a children’s picture book.

Another infamous statement I made upon exiting my public relations job at the nuclear plant: “this is going to be the last time I ever do public speaking.”

Just as I was getting over the nausea brought on by all those interesting life experiences I encountered when publishing my first book, the least of which was public speaking, I decided to do a children’s book on nuclear power plants.

The idea had been in the back of my mind ever since I worked in the nuclear industry. I always wished there was something more creative than the yawn-provoking brochures I handed out to my students. Back then I never imagined I would be the one to write it.

I never imagined the backlash I would encounter when I did either. That backlash, the fake news stories, and downright bullying are some of the things I’ve been writing about and will be sharing in a soon-to-be released blog about why I’m supporting the March for Science


While their topics are very different, there are a several things my children’s books on cancer and nuclear power plants have in common, both books:

  • helped to pioneer resources for young children.
  • were controversial when published.
  • establish a dialogue between children and adults.
  • are fictitious stories that offer factual information pertaining to sensitive topics.
  • still provoke the praise and/or wrath of complete strangers.
  • are the basis for a school program.
  • just recently went LIVE on Kindle!  Woot woot! 
Futhermore both books have the ability to make me fluctuate between giddy gratitude and queasiness…as does being a long-term cancer survivor.

I’ve decided queasy is good; it’s how I know my books and I are still alive and provoking havoc.

Jillian Michaels is glaring accusingly at me from her exercise video.

Earth Day is approaching and if I’m going to March for Science, it’s time to get myself off the sofa and onto the exercise mat.

If you’re still reading, please connect with me on Facebook: at Author Amelia Frahm. I’d love to hear your survivor story! We all have them, and I’m not just talking about cancer.

More on my story may be found by visiting Nutcracker Publishing Company.