Senior scam alert. And free ebook. And beloved ship sinks

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 3 2020

Senior scam alert. And free ebook. And beloved ship sinks

by Columnist Tom Blake

You’d think with the extra time we have on our hands during this stay-at-home restriction we are all under, that writing an eNewsletter would be easy. But, it’s not.

Dating and seeking a potential mate isn’t a top priority for older singles at the moment. Evidence of that? Normally, I receive several comments and questions from Champs about dating and relationships, but those have slowed to a trickle.

I did receive many positive comments responding to last week’s “Beware of scams” article. I appreciate that

Two new scams came to my attention this week. The first was chilling, downright scary.

Scam one – I read about this on a KVVU-TV, Las Vegas, online press release, written by Ashley Cooper. A Las Vegas couple in their mid-20s posted an ad on a dating site. Details weren’t available regarding what site or what the ad said. It might have been an ad for a Menage a trois (a threesome).

A Las Vegas man (age not disclosed) took the bait. He went to the couple’s house where they robbed and killed him.

According to Ms. Cooper’s article, a friend of the woman tipped off police. The couple was seen leaving her home and arrested. These admittedly are skimpy details, but still, how careless, not to mention getting close to strangers during this COVID-19 crisis.

We all know to never meet a stranger face-to-face without doing a background check, and, be sure your friends know where you are meeting and with whom. But, to go to someone’s home, having never met the person, is asking for trouble, which is what the victim got.

Scam two: Even Citi Bank is posting scam alerts on their website for Visa cards. Here is a message on their website:

“We recently discovered a new text message scam and wanted to make sure you’re armed with everything you need to know to avoid falling victim to it. This scam involves sending text messages alerting you that your account has been blocked, along with a link to log into your Citi account. This link takes you to a fraudulent website, and when you log in, your Citi online user ID and password will be compromised.

“Awareness and education are your best defenses against scams

“Text communications from Citi typically do not show a complete phone number as the sender of the text. Shorter codes of 5 or 6 digits are usually used by Citi and could be displayed with or without dashes (for instance, 410-98 or 248487) If you see a full phone number as the sender of the text, this may be a scam. Please confirm the message is legitimate before taking any action.

“In addition, when we send a text with a link to log in to your account directly from the text, the link will always include or Be aware of other variations, like additional punctuation or abbreviations.”

Part 2, So, what have I been doing?

I can’t go Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Baby Beach and the adjacent parking lot and other beaches in Southern California are closed. Previously, when I’ve paddled, one of the sites I enjoy seeing is Dana Point’s tall ship “Pilgrim.” It’s been docked at Baby Beach for years, sort of the symbol of Dana Point. Can’t even do that anymore. Here’s why:


Photo courtesy of Ron Cohan

Hopefully, she will be salvaged and float again.

One project I’m working on is updating my ebooks on the website. Smashwords is the world’s largest ebook-bookstore. Anybody can post their books there and market them at almost no cost. I have eight ebooks available on Smashwords. Two of those eight needed editing so that’s what I’ve been working on.

One is “Widower dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?” It’s one of my most popular ebooks as widows, widowers and women dating widowers have downloaded it. I spent a few hours reworking that book and lowered the price is $2.99.

The other book that needed updating was: “Italy 23 Days by Train.” This book features a trip to Italy that Greta and I took in 2008. It has 98 photos (that’s pretty staggering by itself). It was fun reliving that trip, which included Northern Italy (Milan, Genoa and Cinque Terre), Southern Italy (Rome, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi, Naples) and Tuscany. (Florence, Siena, Assisi).

While working on that book, this thought crossed my mind: how different Italy is today under the CORONA-19 crisis: empty streets, restaurants and tourist sites closed, people sick, dying and people quarantined. What a tragedy.

Then I thought, “Why not–during this time when we are self-quarantined at home–invite our Champs to view what Italy was like at its finest in 2008? Why not let them download the ebook, Italy 23 days by Train for no cost for a couple of weeks? So, that’s what I am doing. Here’s what you do.

-Go to and search on Tom Blake. That will take you to my ebook page. Click on “Italy 23 Days by Train.”


Italy 23 days by train cover

Click on the purchase button and then insert this free coupon number: LP83M

You can download that fun book with its 98 pictures and enjoy it. For Kindle readers, download it in the Mobi format. Others might have to download in epub format. You can also send it to your email address, and open it from there.

The free coupon will be valid from today, April 3, until April 17.

If you have trouble downloading it, on the Smashwords page, you can click on “Online Reader” and read online without downloading it.

If you have questions or issues with the download, email me at

If any of you are thinking of publishing a book, is an incredible website for publishing ebooks. Take a look on how detailed and informative their style guide is. Ebooks outsell printed books now, in this day of electronic communications.

And then, when the world gets rid of this deadly virus, perhaps you’ll want to go visit the incredible Italy that Greta and I were blessed to see and experience.

Part 2 Why Greta and I are thankful

During this virus, it’s hard to find a silver lining. Let me tell you one of the reasons we are thankful.

We had planned to take a 10-day Amtrak train trip to Seattle and back to visit Greta’s niece and my cousin, who both live in the Seattle area. Tickets were paid for, hotel reservations made. We were leaving March 7. About a week before, the virus was cropping up in Seattle. We had the common sense to cancel our trip—or at least postpone it—until the virus goes away. We are so thankful that we didn’t go.

Stay well, be positive, help people in need, but keep your distance. Remember, there are lots of lonely seniors out there. Give them a call or send them a text or email.

And speaking of reaching out to old friends, on Tuesday, I telephoned astronaut Joe Allen, a former fraternity brother of mine I’ve known for 63 years, who is living in Indiana.

Joe’s a former astronaut, who went into space twice, in 1982 and 1984. In an EVA (extravehicular activity), also known as a spacewalk, conducted outside of the spacecraft, Joe retrieved a satellite. And held it, as the spacecraft traversed the earth. Pretty courageous stuff.

We talked for over an hour. It gave us both a big lift.

Joe Allen and crew 51-A

Picture of Joe Allen (upper right) and crew members – Space Shuttle 51-A

Photo courtesy of NASA

So that’s it for this week. The world will get through this enormous challenge.