Holliston: Awareness protects seniors from fraud
By Anamika Roy
MetroWest Daily News
October 1, 2013
HOLLISTON — The message to seniors in Holliston Monday was clear: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Nearly 40 people attended a Senior Protection Seminar led by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan at the Holliston Senior Center.
Whether it’s a million dollar check from a Nigerian prince or a hoax call informing someone that their loved one was in an accident, the National Council on Aging calls financial scams targeting seniors the crime of the 21st century.
“These are preventable crimes,” said Ryan, who was once chief of the Middlesex District Attorney's Office unit on elder and disabled crime.
Simple practices such as locking the front door, never giving personal information to strangers, and leaving valuables at home and not in the handbag, can stop scammers, Ryan said.
“They look for the easiest way in, easiest way out,” said Holliston Police Department Elder Affairs Officer Matt Waugh, referring to criminals’ habits.
The most common crimes against the elderly addressed at the seminar included: financial exploitation, healthcare fraud, telemarketing fraud, Internet fraud, lottery scams and construction scams.
State Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, said the state Legislature is taking steps to ensure the protection of the elderly against the most common fraud scams that target people over 50.
According to the Holliston Police Department, there have not been many cases of fraud recently. The most common crimes are “gypsy scams” perpetrated by an organized group that usually leaves town after a short period of time.
Ryan said that the elderly often do not report cases of abuse and fraud out of fear or embarrassment.
“Don’t ever be afraid to say something,” said state Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, who was also in attendance. “Better to say something and stop it.”
Panelists advised seniors to call a trusted family member, their bank or their local elder services department if they think they are being scammed. To reach the Middlesex Elder Abuse Unit call 781-897-8300.