Jun 7, 2012 8:15 PM
GREEN VALLEY - Criminals are taking advantage of a vulnerable population our elderly. In fact, about a third of the calls to the Pima County Sheriff's Department are related to fraud, targeting the elderly.
Now a Sheriff's Auxiliary volunteer is helping turn the tables by creating a "Scam Squad".
Lou Sampson is behind the name and the idea. She's put together a list of the recent scams hitting Green Valley, such as bank and check schemes, where victims receive a call or an email asking for their account information. Or email from Spain, saying a friend has been robbed and needs money. The grandparents scheme, where victims get a phone call claiming to a grandchild or relative who is in trouble and needs cash. The lottery winner, saying you've just won a lot of money in another country. The package delivery scheme saying UPS, United States Post Office is attempting to deliver a package. Sampson says she's heard them all, "We are just such a target for scams because we have older people. Sometimes they are right on the verge of dementia or they are on medication or they're lonely and want to talk on the phone to people they don't even know."
So armed with information Sampson and other members of the auxiliary volunteers who number nearly 100 are going to homes to talk to residents who have questions or who may have been a target.
One woman called the Sheriff's department and asked about an email she received from the Internal Revenue Service saying she was owed a tax refund of $3,200. The email said to access the form you had to send in personal information. The woman didn't fall for it and called the Sheriff's department.
Sampson gave her materials to keep by her phone, and her computer saying to hang-up, delete, or shred important information.
Lt. Deanna Johnson heads the Green Valley district "Our population is very trusting they don't believe that people would take advantage of them they want to believe the goodness in human nature and they need to be educated from the outset that these types of things happen."
For more information go to www.pimasheriff.org