Law Enforcement Agencies Do Not Handle Civil Cases. Law enforcement agencies do not have the staff, nor do they by law have the authority, to assist with civil cases, even if it appears that one individual has blatantly taken advantage of another. Law Enforcement Officers are personally at a dilemma. They passionately want to help the senior in some way, but they just can't because in these situations they have no more authority than the next door neighbor. Florida Sheriffs and Chiefs are passionate about their support for Seniors Vs Crime. When possible, Project Offices are co-located in sheriff or police department facilities.
Seniors Vs Crime Project transitions cases to Law Enforcement. The Seniors Vs Crime Project does not handle criminal cases. When it is determined that there is reason to believe that a violation of a criminal law has occurred, a sworn Law Enforcement Officer (badge, gun) must be in charge of any activity where we are involved. When it is disclosed that a case has a criminal element, the entire case is transitioned to a Law Enforcement Agency. In some of these cases investigating officers request that a Senior Sleuth continue working on certain aspects of the non criminal elements of the investigation. Under these circumstances the Senior Sleuths are assisting law enforcement and provide all of their findings to the investigating officer. The Seniors Vs Crime Project turns over a large number of suspected criminal cases to law enforcement throughout Florida each year. In 2013, 27 of these cases resulted in convictions.
Law Enforcement transitions cases to the Seniors Vs Crime Project. When law enforcement agencies have a Seniors Vs Crime Project Office partnered with their agency, they can assist the senior by referring the senior to the Seniors Vs Crime Project, then work with the Senior Sleuths behind the scenes as needed to provide assistance.
Should the Senior Sleuths discover criminal behavior in the case, it can then be easily transitioned back to the Law Enforcement Officer.
The FBI and a Senior Sleuth - A recent success story - Less than five years ago a Senior Sleuth investigated a case where a senior was referred by a Sheriff's Deputy to the Seniors Vs Crime Project because based on the evidence, it was a civil case. The senior was very observant of activities in his neighborhood. He felt he had been scammed, and strongly suspected that some of his senior neighbors had been scammed as well. Insurance had paid so he was not out-of-pocket cash but he just had a gut instinct.He provided the Senior Sleuth with his neighbors names and phone numbers. After making several calls, the Senior Sleuth concluded that the senior was correct in his suspicions. To him, it appeared to be an insurance scam. The Senior Sleuth began collecting documentation from everyone who had been scammed, seniors and non-seniors, and working with the Sheriff's Deputy, they verified that other neighborhoods had reported the same incidents. After several weeks of accumulating information, the Senior Sleuth realized that this needed to be investigated as criminal fraud because he had written evidence that the same exact scam was conducted against a long list of seniors in local neighborhoods. He learned that fraud conducted in an organized manner against a number of individuals most often results in a criminal violation under state and/or Federal Law. He presented his findings to the law enforcement agency that hosted the Seniors Vs Crime Project Office, and the evidence was provided to a Sheriff's Detective who focused on fraud crimes.
The Sheriff's Detective continued the investigation and using the material provided by the Senior Sleuth, validated that it was almost a certainty that the same scam was being conducted in multiple states. He contacted the FBI and eventually transitioned the case to them, then he and the Senior Sleuth briefed the FBI Agents at the local FBI office when they transitioned the documentation. The FBI validated that the case was national in scope and pursued the scam perpetrator(s) for violation of Federal Fraud laws. This was a simple case of a senior whose gut instinct was that the people who scammed him were scamming a lot of people. The senior's gut instinct turned out to be correct - and his actions landed the scammers in Federal Court charged with multiple felonies. That was a good day. The Senior Sleuth was recognized by the Sheriff and the FBI in a formal ceremony for the outstanding work of collecting evidence, analyzing it, demonstrating that a criminal law was broken, transitioning all of that material to the host law agency, and supporting the process until the FBI had launched a nationwide investigation.