Local Scams: A Warning in Print

7-22-05 – Every day, scam artists prey on the innocent. In Texoma, their victims are often seniors. But a program that focuses on helping people eat is also the driving force to protect them from fraud.

“If you have any doubt about anything, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” warns Donna Baugh, Elder Rights worker for the Area Agency on Aging.

Calls flood the AAA office each day, reporting victims of email and phone scams.

“The people that do these scams now put so much time and energy into it, that a lot of professional people fall victim to those scams,” says Baugh.

She believes the elderly are easy targets, calling them a “trusting generation, that makes deals on a handshake.” That’s why the AAA office is reaching beyond the desk, looking for help from other community programs that have direct contact with seniors.

“This is to teach people how to avoid this sort of thing because once you're a victim, the chances of you getting your money back are next to none,” says Patti Jacobs, of Meals on Wheels.

Meals On Wheels makes daily deliveries of food to homebound seniors, keeping staffers acutely aware of elderly needs. For the past few months, they’ve sent out a monthly newsletter. Elderly rights activists say one of the most important articles is the “Seniors Beware” page, highlighting a scam-of-the-month. They say the printed warnings are a big help, increasing awareness that con artists lurk throughout Texoma.

The non-profit delivers 4000 copies of the Meals on Wheels Monthly to senior centers, clinics, and homes. The Area Agency on Aging also holds monthly meetings in Grayson, Fannin or Cooke County, discussing issues like scams, and protecting the rights of the elderly.