Growing threat of elder abuse discussed at local workshop

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — With more and more senior citizens moving to Brunswick County, local leaders and state officials are working to keep them protected from scammers.

According to the State Department of Justice, elder fraud scams were the number one scams reported last year.

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“Call us. Check before you write one,” NC Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall said.

That was the main message Marshall discussed during an Anti-Fraud Workshop in Brunswick County Thursday afternoon.

“A lot of crimes in this area does occur one family member on another family member,” Marshall said. “So people have got to be very alert to that kind of thing. There are a variety of types of elder abuse that happen in our community sadly everyday.”

Bobby Ann Caldwell fell victim to a scam two years ago.

“It was a costly lesson but I learned it well,” Caldwell said.

Soon after Caldwell bought a laptop, she got a call from a man claiming he was with Microsoft and that her computer had been hacked.

“So I believed him,” Caldwell said. “So for the wonderful price of $199 I was guaranteed security for three years.”

A few months later, the scammer called again saying he was issuing Caldwell a refund because of a software issue.

“He told me he made a mistake. Instead of $199 he did $1,999. So I had to go find a Western Union office open in the evening and send the money back to him so he wouldn’t get fired,” Caldwell said.

After she sent the scammer the money, he asked for it again saying he did not receive the payment. In that moment, Caldwell realized she lost nearly $2,000.

“Hang up,” Caldwell said. “Don’t even bother being polite and saying ‘No thank you,’ just hang up.”

Caldwell was one of the dozens who attended the workshop. She said she will never fall for a scam again.

“Medicare does not call. The IRS does not call. The state of North Carolina does not call. All of this is done in writing. So if somebody is calling saying that you need to do this or you’re gonna be arrested, you need to do this or your powers gonna be cut off, that’s not how these organizations operate. So don’t fall for it,” Marshall said.

Marshall adds if someone comes to your home without you contacting them, or if an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, then it is likely a scam.

Some of the most popular elder fraud scams include sweetheart scams, sweepstakes scams, and government grant scams.

For more on what you should lookout for, click here.