Crime Prevention Corner:Seniors are the backbone of crime prevention, community policing

Ron Craig

Senior citizens have become the focus of crime prevention and community policing initiatives, and this has been more and more clearly the case in our area with our township’s Neighborhood Watch programs.
Make no mistake, younger members of our Neighborhood Watch groups are a very important part of these programs, providing valuable input and participation. But the reason I say seniors are the backbone comes down to one very important factor – vulnerability.
Because of their naturally trusting nature, seniors can be an easy target for scammers.
In almost every type of scam, seniors have fallen prey and have sometimes lost their life savings to these swindlers. Some scams, such as the “grandparent” scam, even seek out seniors as their intended targets.
The grandparent scheme involves someone calling a senior purporting to be a grandson or granddaughter, saying they are in trouble and need quick cash to solve the problem.
The scammer may say they were in a car accident and are in the hospital and need the money to pay their hospital bill before they can be discharged. In other cases, they say they have been arrested and need the money for bail.
In these scenarios, the scammer pretends to be crying, which explains why they do not sound like the grandparent’s real grandchild. The scammers will even ask the grandparents not to contact any other family members because they are embarrassed about the situation.
The grandparent is then asked to send money or give credit card information to resolve the issue.
Last year, an older Millbury couple got such a phone call. Because of what they had learned as part of our police department's scam warnings, they didn't fall for it. They questioned the caller about which one of their grandchildren he was, and asked other questions that could only be answered by a real family member. After the caller knew he had been discovered, he hung up.
This is just one type of scam in which seniors find themselves involved, but it is one of many that separate seniors from their hard-earned cash.
In the past month, I have personally received multiple calls from someone purporting to be from a used vehicle warranty company, trying to sell me coverage for my vehicles. In every case, the caller ID shows someone calling from the same area code and telephone prefix as my own phone number (419-481-XXXX). Also, in every case the caller had a Middle Eastern accent.
Each time, I ask them where they are calling from, and each time they give me a city in some other state. I then ask them why every time I get these calls the caller has a Middle Eastern accent and why they are using false phone numbers to show up on the caller ID.
Many of them say some very nasty things about my mother before I hang up on them.
We have always warned everyone not to give personal information out over the phone or over the internet. The risk is too high, especially when someone else initiates the phone conversation or the email.
Protecting our township's seniors has been a primary focus of my duties as the Lake Township Police Department's crime prevention officer and community policing officer. Chief Mark Hummer has tasked me with doing all I can to assist members of this important segment of our township residents.
This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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