FBI Teams up with Senior Citizens to Fight Fraud
do you keep senior citizens from being conned by illegal telemarketers?
One good answer: Put
illegal telemarketers behind bars.
An equally good
answer: Educate senior citizens on the tricks of the trade and
how they can protect themselves from the con...through the good offices
of totally credible teachers: other senior citizens.
That's just what our
Los Angeles Office did when it established the Financial Crimes
Victim Call Center (FCVCC).
In a partnership with
AT&T Wireless, AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), and
WISE Senior Services, our L.A. Office set up this first-of-a-kind fraud
prevention call center in 1998. It has two missions: First, to alert potential
victims that they have been or will be targeted by con-artists. And second,
to gather information about new and ongoing scams.
How does it
work? Taking a page out of the telemarketers' playbook (or phonebook,
in this case) the volunteers call people whose names are found on lists
of potential victims seized during FBI raids of fraudulent telemarketing
operations, or "boiler rooms."
Since the center began
operating, senior volunteers -- trained about fraud by the L.A. Office
and AARP -- have placed more than 120,000 fraud prevention phone calls.
They use a one-page script with tips for potential victims, warning them
not to send money or give personal or financial information to callers
they don't personally know. They also itemize fraud warning signs, such
as pressured solicitations to wire money or offers to have a courier service
pick up a check or money order directly from their house.
Volunteers offer to
send potential victims a fraud prevention kit, free of charge; provide
them with the telephone number of their nearest FBI office; and encourage
them to report suspected fraud.
Does it work? Yes!
According to a study conducted for the Justice Department by AARP last
year, "Off the Hook – Reducing Participation in Telemarketing
Fraud," consumer education can lower a victim's willingness to respond
to fraudulent pitches by up to 50%.
Now that's what
we call partnering for results!