Medina PD outlines scams targeting senior citizens

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Officer Dustin Meredith with the Medina Police Department presented a program on scams at the Medina Senior Center on Monday.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 13 October 2022 at 8:23 am

MEDINA – Seniors who attended the October dinner meeting at the Senior Center Monday got a lesson in how to stay safe and avoid scams.

Guest speaker for the luncheon meeting was officer Dustin Meredith of the Medina Police Department, who gave a presentation on the various scams that are targeted to seniors.

Meredith has been employed in Natural Resource Conservation, animal control with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and now as the School Resource Officer at Medina Central School.

He explained “fraud” as any criminal deception intended to obtain financial gain.

One area scam artists work in is healthcare, and Meredith said everyone should treat their Medicare number like their Social Security number. Don’t give it to anyone but your doctor or trusted family member.

“We don’t have much success in apprehending these types of scammers,” the officer said.

To prevent credit card scams, Meredith recommends reviewing bank accounts and credit card statements regularly. And never allow a website to remember your credit card information, he said. If a credit card is lost or stolen, call the bank and have it deactivated immediately.

Wire fraud is another type of scam targeting seniors. A senior will get a call saying it is their grandson or a lawyer for the grandson who is in jail and needs $5,000 to get out.

“In cases like that, we are not going to call you on the phone,” Meredith said. “I’ve been in Medina a couple of years now and have dealt with that scam multiple times.”

As school resource officer, Meredith said he has seen students who lost money through Facebook because they befriended someone they didn’t know. He said everyone should be aware if they get a friend request from someone they are already friends with, it is a scam.

Romance scams are also a big problem. A man contacts a lady and gains her trust, often hurrying the romance along. Then they ask for money, for example, for a plane ticket to come and see her, and then they vanish. Meredith has also seen several local cases like that.

Meredith also offered suggestions for home safety. Always lock all the doors and windows to your home, car and garage, he said. Make sure no valuables are visible in your vehicle. Several seniors just recently had their purses stolen out of their cars in the Senior Center parking lot.

Install cameras if possible, Meredith said. Make sure the exterior of the home is well lit. A simple deterrent is the installation of motion lights. He also said people should realize if they leave their garage door opener in their car and it is broken into, the thief can now get into the house.

Criminals like the dark, Meredith said, so keep trees and shrubs around the house trimmed.

“An unkept property looks inviting to a criminal,” he said.

He also advised residents who go away to inform their police department or ask a friend or neighbor to keep check on their home. If requested, the police department will make regular checks on the home to make sure it is all locked up.

“If you come home some day and your door is unlocked, don’t go in,” Meredith said. “Call the police and have them check it out first.”

Information was also shared on calls telling seniors they have won money or a prize and asking them to submit an amount of money to receive it. In no instance, should someone pay money to receive a “free” prize.

Meredith concluded his presentation by sharing risk factors which reduce a senior’s ability to drive, such as side effects of medications, epilepsy, diabetes and aging, which increases reaction time. He suggested having hearing and vision checked regularly and to be aware of weather conditions.

The Medina Police Department is hoping to give this presentation to senior living complexes and interested groups in the Medina area. Anyone who would like Meredith to share this program may contact the Medina Police Department at 798-5602.