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Cuccinelli to seniors: Watch for scams
During visit to S.A.L.T. picnic
Ruth Wyatt of Martinsville shows Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli a solicitation for money she received in the mail Tuesday at the 17th annual senior appreciation day picnic at Jack Dalton Park. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had one clear message for the seniors attending the 17th annual senior appreciation day picnic at Jack Dalton Park Tuesday: Don’t get scammed.
The picnic, hosted by the Martinsville/Henry County Triad S.A.L.T. (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) Council, also featured comments from Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry and Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers, Sheriff Steve Draper and Commonwealth’s Attorney Joan Ziglar.
They introduced Cuccinelli to the crowd and talked about their work against scams and how their offices work together.
Cuccinelli spoke highly of the working relationship between the law enforcement representatives.
“I really appreciate the partnership with your law enforcement here,” he said. “They work really well together across jurisdictional lines. And you might assume that happens everywhere in Virginia. Well, it doesn’t. You all are very blessed in that respect.”
Cuccinelli’s chief message at the picnic was one of caution to seniors who could become the victims of scam artists.
“I’m going to start with, and finish with, one message on fraud for you personally,” he said. “If you didn’t contact them (scammers), don’t give them anything. If you didn’t initiate the contact, don’t give them information, don’t give them checks, don’t give them the time of day, until you know what you’ve got in front of you.
“You all are targeted, as older Virginians, more than anyone else,” he continued. “That’s why we have a Triad program.”
Triad, Cuccinelli explained, is not an acronym. It represents a partnership between three parties: local law enforcement, the Attorney General’s office and local senior volunteers. He described it as “a neighborhood watch” to prevent older Virginians from being defrauded or victimized.
Cuccinelli said that there are multiple types of scams, and new ones appear frequently.
For example, he said, following the May tornado that killed 24 people in Moore, Okla., many residents across the state began receiving phone calls soliciting donations from people falsely claiming to represent the Red Cross.
“Some people just don’t want to wait in line to go to hell,” Cuccinelli said. “They really feel like they’ve got to cut to the front of the line.”
He added that if someone receives a call soliciting donations and actually wants to contribute, the best course of action is to hang up the phone, look up the real phone number and initiate the donation that way.
Another type of scam, Cuccinelli said, involves scammers calling the elderly and claiming to be a grandchild in need of financial help.
“They’re aiming at the softest spot you’ve got — your heart,” he said.
Cuccinelli said that the smartest course of action again is to hang up the phone, find the grandchild’s real phone number and call to find out if the crisis is real. Scammers will apply pressure to make this difficult, however.
“They want you to act before you hang up,” he said. “Don’t ever do that. Don’t ever, ever do that.”
When money is obtained by a scammer, it is almost never recovered, Cuccinelli said, which is “why Triad is so important, because prevention, from a law enforcement standpoint, is the only thing we’ve got.”
He added that a constantly updated list of scams is available on the Attorney General’s website, located at www.oag.state.va.us.
“These people, they may be evil, but they’re creative,” he said.
Also at the meeting, the Triad S.A.L.T. presented Rogers with a table clock in honor of his retirement this July.