Philadelphia Corporation for Aging holds informational event to protect seniors from scams and fraud

Thursday, June 20, 2024
PCA holds informational event to protect seniors from scams and fraud
Scams and fraud can affect anyone, but the senior community can be especially vulnerable, so Philadelphia Corporation for Aging hosted an event to shine a light on this issue.

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) hosted a free event at their North Broad Street headquarters on scams, fraud and exploitation for older adults.

Tamikia Morris is the Director of Older Adult Protective Services for PCA.

Paid Sponsor Partnership: Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

Morris says the event provided older adults with "tips on how to be aware and protect themselves."

Kate Kleinert shared her first-hand account of falling for a romance scam online. She says "no one is immune" from scammers.

Kleinert says she met the man who scammed her on social media and they were "talking four and five times a day."

"I did feel like I could trust him," she says.

Kleinert started sending him money when he told her his daughter was sick, and she ended up losing a large sum.

"I sent Tony $39,000," she says.

"Tony" never materialized and now she travels around the country telling her story as a volunteer with AARP to help others avoid the same fate.

PCA brought together other agencies to field questions. Morris moderated the event.

"What are the most prevalent types of financial elder abuse your agency handles?" asked Morris.

Alexander Blumenthal, Assistant District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia, says they see a lot of "abuse by known perpetrators." Caregiver identity fraud is just one example.

"And then, also, you have the unknown perpetrators," says David Shallcross, Director of Senior Protection for the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. He says these folks are known as the "scammers."

Linda Johnson, Manager of the Fraud and Security Department at Ardent Credit Union, gave some tips on what to be on the lookout for when talking to people online, or on the phone.

"The top ways they try to take your money is gift cards and cryptocurrency," she says.

You can call PCA's 24/7 Helpline at 215-765-9040 to report elder abuse anonymously.

"PCA, of course, is your stepping stone to making reports of need," says Jennifer Norman, Assistant Director of Older Adult Protective Services for PCA.

"Older adult protective services investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment," says Morris. "And helps to reduce harm and risk to older adults in the community."

Staying connected, the experts agreed, is key to prevention.

"The biggest problem, I think, seniors face with these scams is isolation," says Blumenthal.

He says another big issue is that scammers also "get the person's emotions involved," which can result in older adults losing a lot of money.

Esperanza Lopez works with many older adults as a Social Services Coordinator at Norris Square Senior Community Center. She says she attended the event so that she could share some of this information with older adults who frequent the center.

"Educating our communities is very important," she says.

Morris says some tips to stay safe include, being aware of "random people or long-lost family members that appear out of the blue."

She says it's also a good idea to be aware of telephone calls "asking you to change or update your password, or to provide your account number or social security number or any type of personal identification."

Kleinert says that if you have fallen victim to one of these crimes, you should know that "this is not your fault."

"We urge everyone to reach out to PCA, or your local law enforcement office, to inform them of the situation and ask what your options are," says Morris.

For more information:

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging:

PCA's Older Adult Protective Services (OAPS):

Report Older Adult Abuse 24/7 to PCA's Helpline: 215-765-9040

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

642 N. Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19130