In 1989, some of Florida’s most effective crime fighters were
unleashed through the creation of the Attorney General’s Seniors vs.
Crime Project. This Project, sponsored by my Office, allows seniors
to be actively involved in their own and their younger citizens' protection.
The volunteers, known as Senior Sleuths, (1) serve as eyes and ears
to inform my office of current issues affecting seniors, (2) educate
the public about scams and frauds, (3) assist law enforcement as actors
with undercover operations and (4) manage consumer cases referred by
my office or requested of the Project by other sources. These crime
fighters are responsible for recovering millions of dollars for
seniors who were intentional or unintentional victims of con artists
or honest businesses.
Volunteers work throughout the state in locations known as
Offices. More than 3,000 Senior Sleuth volunteers provide important assistance to the
state's crime fighting effort from those Offices or from the comfort
of their homes.
Unethical businesses and individuals may believe that their senior
target is helpless, when, in fact, the "target" may be working for
the Attorney General or local law enforcement in an undercover role.
Few volunteer opportunities permit this level of involvement for seniors in
their own protection.
I am proud to be a partner with these
outstanding citizens. Please give the Seniors vs. Crime Project a
chance to help with your consumer related complaint by calling
1-800-203-3099 or request help through their web site.Pam Bondi
This column is devoted to changing your behavior
from being readily susceptible to a next scam to being scam resistant. Seniors
Vs. Crime has two functions. It educates Florida seniors to avoid being scammed,
cheated, conned, defrauded, , hornswoggled, rooked, swindled, short-changed or
victimized. And it tries to make whole those who weren’t educated in time and
were taken. We would much rather educate you from being cheated than try to make
you whole again. We are good, but we aren’t that good.
Each year Seniors Vs. Crime Project, A Special Project of the Florida Attorney
General, returns approximately one million dollars to seniors who felt they were
cheated. That is only a small fraction of the amount that they reported was
taken from them. Again, we aren’t that good at making folks completely whole.
Many programs such as ours teach you slogans such as “If it seems too good to be
true; it probably is.” The first time you hear it, it sounds pretty good. By the
second, third and fourth time, the effect is lost and your brain will ignore
that advice as just another trite expression that has no relevance for you.
Later, when you feel the thrill of a once in a lifetime financial opportunity at
almost no risk or you are called by a young voice that says “Grandma, I’m in a
Mexican jail. Here…. someone is going to talk to you. Please help me!” you might
still fall victim in spite of our slogans.
Our challenge as educators is to present content that will engage your emotions
and be remembered at the time when you need it most – when your own emotions are
evoked over an opportunity or a threat.
Every day Seniors Vs. Crime receives emails requesting help through our form web
page at http://www.seniorsvscrime.com/request_help.htm. Folks who feel they were
cheated can fill out our form. When they hit submit, an email is sent to our
executive director. He, a former Major of the Vermont State Police, will see
what county of Florida is affected and will assign that request for help to one
of five regional directors who manage operations for Florida. All our regional
directors are retired law enforcement. The regional director receiving will
assign the request to one of several Offices he/she supervise. There are 35
Offices in Florida servicing 67 counties. If the request has anything to do with
Florida, such as the victim is in Florida or the victim is in New York and the
offending business is in Florida, the request will be honored.
The emails present the raw emotion of people at their last attempt to be made
whole. We find that our clients have usually gone through a number of government
and non-profit agencies before they contact us. We think of ourselves as the
bottom of the barrel. Our clients are scraping by the time they come to us,
usually months after the offending occurrence.
The stories implicit in those emails are better education than our slogans. And
we will share them with you. First, I need to share some ground rules. We do not
identify our clients or the persons or businesses complained of to the public.
All emails have been seriously modified without redaction to tell the essence of
the story and to identify no person, place or entity. All the emails will have
been submitted to SVC at least three months ago. Punctuation, spelling and
grammar will not be corrected.
We will gauge your reactions to these stories. If you like them, we will share
more. Here is the first.
I am a retired/disabled police officer/det. I am writing this complaint in
behalf for my elderly mother. Sometime between the 10th or 12th of July, my
mother took her car in to the service dept for a bad motor in her roll up
windows. The technican advised her the warranty on the car had just expired and
my mother would have to pay to get the part fixed. 800.00 worth. I checked her
warranty on the car and in fact the warranty was still valid. I called the
service manager and told him the warranty was still valid and had almost 2 years
left on it. The service manger told me the warranty was no good because they
just bought the dealership from the previous owner. I explained to the service
manager this was a valid warrantty and it did not matter who owned the
dealership to honor the warranty. I advised the service manager I was a retired
police officer of 27 years. I explained the Fruad, Scheme with the intent
statutes and the exploytation of the eldery law. Approx 20 minutes later the
service manager called me back and told me I was correct and the warranty was
still valid for 1 year and a half. The service manager stated he got the file of
the purchase of the car too find this out. The service manager offered to pay
back half of the 800.00. I requested full payback and warned him about this
pratice they use on liilt old ladies who dont have a clue. While at another
dealer getting my car fixed, the owner told me the service dept charged an
eldery couple 800.00 to put in two nuts and bolts. The couple was distessed
because they did not have the money . She further stated this is a common
pratice with the serivce dept taking old folks. My mother has not recived her
money back. Retired P.D.
Writer, David Blacklock, SVC
Regional Director of Region 3
Seniors Vs. Crime Project
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