Baton Rouge City Constable's Office warns of summer scams targeting elderly

Baton Rouge Constable's Office warns of summer scams targeting elderly
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 74-year-old Rose Saunier can be found at the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging on summer mornings.

Saunier calls bingo four days a week. Lately, though, there's another type of call she hopes to never get again.

"It was a constant thing. They always want to sell you something," said Saunier.

As clear as she calls bingo numbers, Saunier calls out anyone she believes is a scammer calling her at home

"They say, 'Yeah, you won a prize. You won a trip or something and you only have to send $200 and I'll send you the tickets.' I would just blow them off say, 'I know this is a scam and forget about it,'" said Saunier.

Also at bingo, 72-year-old Sarah Price. She worries about scammers targeting her friends.

"I always tell people be real careful," said Price.

That's the same message from workers at the council. This summer they're partnering with the Baton Rouge City Constable's Office. 9News was invited inside a meeting when investigators gave new information about the latest scams targeting the elderly.

Dy. Earl Wright has been tracking scams for years between his time working for the Constable's Office and the Attorney General. This summer, there are three scams he's warning seniors to look out for.

The Constable's Office said scammers are exploiting elderly men and womens' love for animals and selling them puppies. But like all scams, there's a cruel twist.

"Once they pay that money over the phone, they are delivered with a puppy and the puppy actually dies after maybe a week or two," said Trudy Bihm, Director of Information Assistance at the EBR Council on Aging.

"People love dogs and cats, and they're going to take advantage of trying to get one if they need one," said Dy. Wright. "But if they tell them it's easy, they can just give the money and they'll give it back if they're not happy, that's not true."

Another summer scam to be aware of is life insurance sales.

"A lot of people are being told that they can get insurance for $1 million coverage for a little money at their age. But they're not telling them that they don't qualify. They have to send that money in and once they send that money they never hear from them again," said Dy. Wright.

Dy. Wright said seniors also won't hear back from phony contractors telling them they can fix things around their home. That's the third scam he's warning of. Wright says the worst case he's seen was a loss of $100,000.

"They take the money and they never come back," said Dy. Wright.

"Scams have been going on for years and now that is really noticeable because our senior population has been hit very hard with it," said Bihm.

The Constable's Office and the Council on Aging say now is a good time to remember some general red flags.

Number one is that most of the time you can't get something for free. That's a clear sign the caller is probably not legitimate.

Second, being asked for immediate cash is usually a scam. So is asking you to send them a prepaid debit card.

Third is if you just plain don't understand what the caller is telling you, that's likely a scam too.

The Constable's Office said 90 percent of scams targeting seniors come over the phone and television.

"Anybody tells him anything most of them just take it for face value that it's going to be true," said Dy. Wright.

The council said if you've been scammed, don't be embarrassed. That was part of why none of the victims 9News found would speak about their experiences.

Workers say come forward, call police or the Better Business Bureau, or go to the Council on Aging and share your story there. You could save someone else from becoming a victim.

"Anybody that you don't know from anywhere just hang up, just hang up. Don't let them get you because they keep on and keep on until they get you," said Saunier.

The Constable's Office is now making plans to visit 16 senior centers across the parish to tell hundreds of elderly men and women all about these three scams.

Authorities say knowledge is the key to protecting yourself.

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