Luther J. Walker, a member of the line dancing group The Beulah Boys, said he has heard plenty of stories about people his age falling victim to scams.
“We seem to be very easily led and we assume most people are honest and that’s not the case all the time,” Walker said of himself and fellow seniors.
The Beulah Boys is a group of retired seniors and Walker, along with six or seven other members, had been asked to perform during Scam Jam 2012 at the Manuel Maloof Auditorium in Decatur June 14.
“It’s very important,” Walker said of the event. “We senior citizens, we seem to be very vulnerable.”
Walker said he and others his age, are temped and can sometimes fall into traps, especially when someone offers them something for nothing. He said he’s heard stories from several of his close friends who have fallen victim to various scams, including one who got a phone call from a “Nigerian prince,” who claimed he had gold to ship to the United States.
“He got taken for about $2,000 or $3,000,” Walker said. “It’s a very common scam. Another one is, somebody will come by your house and say, ‘We’ll do this work on your house for cheap,’ and they’ll start working on it but they never finish it because they got paid up front.”
Also present at the event were county and city law enforcement officials, and representatives from the offices of District Attorney Robert James and Solicitor General Sherry Boston.
Stone Mountain Police officer Manuel Norrington was attending the event representing the SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) Council. Norrington, who is president of the council this year, said the event is important because it allows seniors and law enforcement officials to share vital information with each other.
“Criminals are changing now and a lot of scams are targeting people on the Internet,” Norrington said. “Or people may call and ask for their information over the phone and they give it to them and then they become victims of identity theft or fraud.”
Norrington said another scam against the elderly is someone filing tax refunds on their behalf or purchasing items using their credit card information, which can be easily obtained if they aren’t careful.
“But it’s gone down tremendously because of the SALT Council, the sheriff’s office and the DA’s office, and all of the municipalities working together,” Norrignton said.
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said Scam Jam started in 2001 as an effort to get police chiefs throughout DeKalb County and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office to forge a better working relationship with seniors and to educate them about such crimes.
“The first thing I want to tell you is what you already know,” Brown said to the crowd of seniors. “If somebody is going to offer you some cash and you have to give them some cash to make some cash, don’t believe it, and don’t give them your cash because you’re going to lose it.”
Norrington said the most important thing for seniors to do when they get together is to talk about scams. That way they can find out about new ways the elderly are being taken advantage of.
Additionally, Norrington said, if something looks suspicious seniors should bring it to the attention of local law enforcement and senior centers located in DeKalb County.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Norrington said. “We’re all about getting together and sharing information and making sure these seniors are not victims of those crimes.”