Scams seem to arrive at our doorstep every day. They come by email, snail mail, text message, and even phone calls. It never ends, and we all know we must safeguard our private information at all times. But, we are not called to simply protect ourselves! What about those around us – like our extended family members, and our elderly neighbors and friends? Do they know how to protect themselves from scammers? Are we helping them to remain vigilant?
On March 2, 2023, our Prime Timers Seniors’ Group hosted an FBI Agent and a Forensic Accountant from the FBI Field Office in Columbia, for an informative workshop on Elder Fraud and Protecting Yourself.
More than 50 attendees listened intently as Agent Mark McMahon and Forensic Accountant Cyndra Swinson spoke about “catfish” and romance scams, phishing emails, fake lottery scams, and much more They also spoke about how loneliness can result in older people being more susceptible to being taken in by a professional scammer, and how these same people are often hesitant to report they have been scammed because they are ashamed and embarrassed, and they don’t want their family members to decide they are vulnerable or unable to handle their own financial affairs.
These difficult topics were discussed openly during the workshop, and the presentation was followed by an extended, lively question and answer period.
The attendees were encouraged to contact the FBI if they have been a victim of fraud, or if they believe a fraud may be in process (even if no money has been lost yet). To contact the FBI either visit www.IC3.gov or call 1-800-CALL-FBI or http://tips/fbi.gov. You will be asked to provide your name, first date of contact, method of contact, contact info provided and type of financial transaction.
If you are interested in receiving more information about scheduling a FREE FBI Elder Fraud presentation at your church, contact me at Laura@HolyCross.net.
By The Rev. Canon Laura Bowman, Canon for Safe Churches