No Charge - Free - Assistance with Civil Complaints
If you are involved in a civil situation and you request the Seniors vs Crime Project's assistance, the Senior Sleuths assigned to your case will do everything possible to reach a settlement without cost to you and without public or family embarrassment. Senior Sleuths are successful in resolving a very high percentage of cases.
No-Charge (Free) Assistance with Civil Cases
The Seniors vs Crime Project Senior Sleuths assist people involved in civil disputes with contractors and other businesses or individuals who may have defrauded or otherwise taken advantage of them financially. There is no charge for the services of the Project's Senior Sleuths. Assistance is provided through information collected by Senior Sleuths working at one of the local Seniors vs Crime Project Offices throughout the state.
When requesting assistance from the Senior Sleuths at a Project Office, a person has two options.
Option 1: Senior Sleuths may be requested to intervene and represent the complainant.
In these instances, the Senior Sleuths will thoroughly research the complaint and attempt to mitigate the case with all parties involved. If you are involved in a civil situation and you request assistance, the Senior Sleuths assigned to your case will do everything possible to reach a settlement without cost to you and without public or family embarrassment. Senior Sleuths are successful in a high percentage of cases.
Option 2: The person may only be looking for coaching "assistance" through a situation. Seniors Sleuths can advise the senior on how to handle a particular matter and not get involved with anyone except the senior.
The victim is not required to sign anything to receive this type of assistance. It is just one senior talking with/advising another senior. An example would be where the senior was victim of a phone call scam originating from outside the US. No monies can usually be recovered in these cases. The Senior Sleuth would advise the senior on topics such the steps needed to contact a credit card company to dispute a charge; how to freeze their credit bureau accounts; how to request free credit reports; or the importance of changing banking account numbers. In other words, it is one senior coaching another senior thru the difficult, often emotional, steps to take to protect their financial wellbeing after a scam has taken place.
Many people initially only seek advice, then after some discussion they quickly realize the situation is more complex. They then may ask the Senior Sleuths to assist in resolving the situation (Option 1).
Victim must make the request.
The services of the Seniors vs Crime Project must be requested by the victim in the complaint. The Project cannot respond to suggestions that a third party has a problem and should be contacted. Victims may be assisted in filing their complaint by family, friends or Power of Attorneys but the victim must sign the Request for Assistance form before assistance can be rendered.
Project Office Visits
Senior Sleuths routinely conduct all business from within the confines of a Project Office. All contact between the Senior Sleuth and the complainant and others who may be involved, is conducted:
in person, at the local Office;
in special circumstances when in-person project office visits are not possible, in-person in the confines of a law enforcement agency, a government facility, or a senior center;
by Project Office connected communications such as postal mail, email and/or phone;
and, with prior approval of a Director and the Project Office Manager, by Home Office connected communications such as postal mail, email and/or phone.
Documents Pertinent to a Complaint
The complainant is asked to retain all original documents. When necessary, a complainant may be asked to either drop-off copies of complaint related documents at the local project office, or use postal mail to send copies of complaint related documents. The Seniors vs Crime Project retains only copies of relevant documents.
Sumter County Project Office Manager Bryan Lifsey (standng left), and Senior Sleuths Don Schuster, Paul Lathrop, and Jerry Brust (standing left to right) meet with clients Sidney and Susan Waldman (seated) as they open the 7000th case for the busiest office in the state. Photo: Villages-News.com, all rights reserved
This video of West Polk County Project Office Manager Dick Fearnow, on Polk County's PGTV program know as "Polk Place", gives a great overview of What We Do in a Seniors vs Crime Project Office . Video: Polk County via Utube
This video of Seniors vs Crime Deputy Director Marty Jacobson, on the program "Positively Port St. Lucie", provides a clear explanation of the Seniors vs Crime Project history and What We Do, including a number of excellent case examples. Video: Port St. Lucie via Utube
Host Rameca Vincent Leary, Ph.D., and her guests discuss Seniors vs Crime with Judy Ertl, Director Seniors vs. Crime; Vann Milheim, Seniors vs. Crime Escambia County Office Manager; Klaus Ertl, Seniors vs. Crime volunteer. The discussion highlights Seniors vs Crime activities in the aftermath of a major disaster such as a hurricane or wildfire. The PBS WSRE video features The Seniors vs Crime Project segment is the first 30 minutes only. Video: PBS WSRE Pensacola State College via Utube
Complaint Handled by other Agencies
The Seniors vs Crime Project does not handle civil related complaints that by statute are the responsibility of another state agency. In those cases the complainant is referred to the appropriate agency to file their complaint. An example would be a complaint regarding a medical treatment that must be filed with the Florida Department of Health.
The Seniors vs Crime Project refers criminal cases to the appropriate law enforcement.
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 when a Seniors vs Crime Sleuth is involved. When it is determined 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 the Senior Sleuth familiar with the case continue working on the non-criminal elements of the investigation. Under these circumstances the Senior Sleuths are assisting law enforcement, and work under the guidance of law enforcement to provide their findings to the investigating officer.