Crash course helps Broward County seniors avoid getting ripped off

Various scams have tricked senior citizens out of thousands of dollars

By Layron Livingston - Reporter

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Scam prevention workshops put on by the Broward County State Attorney's Office help senior citizens avoid getting ripped off. 

Some seniors have reported receiving phone calls from people warning them that their Social Security number has been used in some kind of fraudulent activity.

"Well, I had one that called me and said I had won a $5,000 prize," Ann Della-Donna said.  

There's also the so-called Jamaican lottery scam.

"A person being assumed to have won a plethora of money, so, $2.5 million, and they tell them that the only way they can get their money is to give them an $800 check," Assistant State Attorney Courtney Sowerby-Thomas said. 

"There are so many things going on now, so many different scams," Broward State Attorney Michael J. Satz said.      

That's exactly the reason why the Broward County State Attorney's Office is taking its senior citizens to class. 

"Broward County does not tolerate this," Sowerby-Thomas said. "We want them to be alert, informed and empowered."

The goal of the workshops is to make the 55-and-up crowd aware of the many different types of schemes fraudsters use to scam them out of their money, like the "grandparents scam."

"They have someone pretend to be a grandchild of a senior citizen, and ultimately, they tell them a sob story that they got into a car crash -- they were drinking -- and ultimately, they need bail money," Sowerby-Thomas said.

A similar scheme recently landed two Miramar men behind bars. They are accused of trying to cheat a 78-year-old man out of $80,000.

"These are hardworking seniors who have lived their lives, are working hard and are living off of fixed incomes and pensions over several years," Sowerby-Thomas said. "So the fact that a person would even target such a group of people that are emotional and trusting people, it's sickening, and it has to stop." 

Fraud detectives and prosecutors are on a mission to make sure some of the most vulnerable Broward County residents don’t become victims.

"It's been very informative," Louisa Boo said about the workshops.   

"As we say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Satz said.  

The Broward County State Attorney's Office said the plan is to hold more workshops throughout the county.

For more information, call the Broward County State Attorney Elder Task Force at 954-831-8525.

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