Seniors vs. Crime office battles fraud aimed at older residents

Published: Friday, June 7, 2013 at 05:43 PM.

Whitten’s office is effective in dealing with seniors defrauded by shoddy or incomplete home or car repairs, and overpriced or misrepresented services such as home security or cable TV contracts.

"In local situations we can talk to the person and usually negotiate a settlement," he said. "You can't do that with the Jamaican lottery, but a roof job that's not done right — we can work with that contractor."

The "Jamaican lottery" is a prevalent scam targeting seniors who are told they've won the island nation's lottery but must send in a "processing fee" or pay "taxes" to collect their winnings.

Because such scams are "hit and run" crimes, often perpetrated from outside of the United States, there's not much Whitten’s office can do to recover stolen money, Whitten said.

Another prevalent scam is the "grandma scam," in which the scammer poses as the victim's grandchild seeking bail money, Whitten said.

Some frequent telephone scams include "winning" a cruise or a Wal-Mart gift card for a "processing fee,” Seniors vs. Crime volunteer Linda Fagan said.

"The only way you can win a prize is if you enter a contest," she said.

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