Grandma, I’m in jail and can’t get home! Please send gift cards to …

Roy Nealon of Triad, left, with, from left, Veronica Jensen, head of Triad, Pat Bright of the AARP, Richard Bright of the AARP, Police Lt. Kevin McKellick, Detective Michael Chaves and Officer Stacy Cascante participate in Financial Scams & Fraud Education, a program held in the Monroe Senior Center.

MONROE, CT — Senior citizens often receive scam phone calls from someone pretending to be their grandchild, telling sob stories of being in jail, the hospital or out of the country and unable to return home. All they need is money in the form of gift cards, prepaid debit cards or a wire transfer. The call usually ends with the plea, “please don’t tell mom or dad.”

“The most common scam in this area is the grandparent scam,” Monroe Police Detective Michael Chaves told those attending Financial Scams & Fraud Education, a program held in the Monroe Senior Center on Sept. 20.

To protect yourself from the grandparent scam, you should contact the grandchild in question to verify that they are safe and this is a scam, according to Chaves.

“When a caller requests gift cards it is 100-percent a scam,” he said.

The program was hosted by Monroe TRIAD, a national community initiative where police, senior citizens and community groups partner to reduce criminal victimization of the elderly. The the event featured officers from the Monroe Police Department, AARP’s Fraud Unit and staff from Spadaccino and Leo P. Gallagher & Son Community Funeral Home, who provided snacks and beverages.

The purpose of the program is to alert seniors to the current scams and crimes against the older population and how to recognize these deceptive practices and protect themselves from falling victim to these crimes.

AARP Fraud Watch

Richard Bright is a volunteer for the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Patricia and Richard Bright, a husband and wife team, have been volunteering with the AARP Fraud Watch Network for eight years.

“I heard about someone being scammed and it really upset me,” said Patricia. “I thought, ‘what could I do to help?’” Patricia’s husband Richard gave a presentation, while she distributed literature.

Richard’s presentation included information on identity theft and ways to prevent it and IRS scams.

No one will call you from the IRS or text you, email you or threaten to arrest you, Richard said of the tactics scammers use to scare victims into giving personal information and money.

The only way the IRS contacts people is via a U.S. Postal Service letter and illegal robocalls, according to Richard.

He encourages people to protect their Social Security Numbers and personal information, to watch over their credit reports, monitor bills and financial accounts — both online and paper documentation — and to do their homework before investing.

Asked why he got involved with the AARP Fraud Watch Network, Richard Bright said, “if we can help one person live the best life they can by doing this, then it is all worth it.”

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