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Seniors most likely victims of scam artists

April 23, 2001

Seniors most likely victims of scam artists



By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

While many senior citizens worry about crimes such as murder, rape and drug dealing, they are more likely to be victimized by scam artists and confidence men who want to take their money.

That was the message Thursday from Hagerstown City Police Officer Randy Rourke, who spoke to members of the Senior Citizens Outreach Ministry, North End Seniors and others at a HotSpots luncheon.

The community building on Sumans Avenue was the site for the informal event sponsored by HotSpots, a state-sponsored program designed to improve the quality of life in troubled neighborhoods.

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"I wanted to introduce people in the community who work with HotSpots programs," said Carolyn Brooks, HotSpots coordinator.

Rourke, who is a community policing specialist, gave a brief talk on how to avoid being victimized by home improvement cons, telephone fraud and other crimes which specifically target the older citizens.

His tips included:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Don't give anyone a Social Security number, credit card number or date of birth over the phone.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Don't pay money up front.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Never contract with anyone to do home improvements without getting a friend or relative to check it out.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

"Lots of seniors don't report it when they are conned because they are embarrassed," Rourke said.

He urged them to overcome those feelings so they could help save others from the same fate.

Also on hand Thursday from the city police were Chief Art Smith, Lt. Margaret Kline and Officer Johnny Murray.

Ian Willock, Richelle Shain and Bobbi Jo Fockler of the Department of Probation and Parole attended and answered questions.

Rick Growden represented the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Penny May Nigh and Victoria Bodnar, candidates for Hagerstown City Council, attended the luncheon as members of the Downtown Mobilization Committee.

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