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Cases illustrate need for seniors to beware

Jun. 14, 2013 @ 11:30 PM

Perhaps they are too trusting. Maybe they don't understand, like many people of all ages, the variety of ways they can be swindled. Some may not realize how items in their residences are coveted by thieves.

Wrongdoers often target senior citizens to victimize with scams, including identity theft, and view them as likely possessors of something the criminal wants, for example, prescriptions drugs.

While authorities track all kinds of crimes, ranging from the violent kind to theft and fraud, they don't have a solid handle on how many of those are directed at senior citizens. But anecdotal evidence indicates the number is significant, and the effects can be devastating to the victims.

That message was brought home recently by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Speaking to people at a senior citizens center in Milton, he gave examples of how people had been victimized.

One case involved a nursing home employee convicted of fraudulently opening a credit card account and then tallying significant debt in a patient's name. Another caretaker forged her patient's name on a fraudulent power of attorney, allowing her to steal $40,000. Then there was a man who was offered help in collecting an inheritance, but he lost $120,000 in wire transfers to a supposed lawyer in Malaysia.

The U.S. attorney also warned the seniors to keep their medicines out of sight and locked up if possible, so as not to tempt someone looking to steal prescription drugs.

The key advice, not only for senior citizens but for all people, is not to be trusting of someone you don't know; guard your personal information, such as Social Security numbers and birth dates, zealously; and stay away from offers that sound too good to be true. More than likely, they're not real.

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