Cassano Joins AARP, Local Police to Teach Fraud Prevention in Glastonbury
GLASTONBURY—Everyone, it seemed, had a story of attempted fraud: the caller who claimed to be a grandchild in jail, needing a quick and expensive bailout, or the email address that wasn’t quite what it appeared to be. Even state Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester) admitted he is sometimes afraid to open an email or answer a phone call from an unknown person for fear it could be a trap.
“There are so many different types of fraud out there, there are a lot of ways to get hurt,” Sen. Cassano said. “It’s a concern for many of us.”
And so it went for 90 minutes at the Riverfront Community Center in Glastonbury, as more than two dozen people turned out to hear Sen. Cassano, the AARP and the Glastonbury Police Department advise them on how not to become a victim of the rampant and varied frauds that are perpetrated on a daily basis upon Connecticut residents, many of them elderly.
“The bad news is that scams will probably never end,” said Darlene Dunbar of the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. “The good news is programs like this, and you all talking with each other. Our goal today is to try and make you as small a victim as possible.”
Dunbar briefed audience members on some of the more common types of scams: identity theft, investment fraud, tech support scams, disaster-related charity fraud, the ‘grandparent scam’ (where a purported grandchild claims to need immediate financial aid in order to get out of trouble), and the foreign lottery scam.
Dunbar cautioned attendees not to “get under the ether,” which is a scammer’s phrase for creating a heightened emotional state in their victim where emotion takes over for reason. She warned of the personal connections that scammers try to make with their victims, the promises of big payouts, and sometimes even threats demanding money.
Dunbar suggested that people never offer or give personal information to strangers, and do not engage in long conversations with strangers. She said people should never click on a link in a suspicious email, or use a phone number provided by a stranger, but should hang up and research the issue themselves.
Officer Adam VanSkiver of the Glastonbury Police Department said he has seen it happen to himself and to family members.
“The more you area aware of what is going on, the more you are prepared to handle something,” he said, noting that scammers often prey on fear and embarrassment as motivations to get people to do what they want. “If someone starts telling you they need it now-now-now, that is a red flag. No one needs anything that urgently. Remember, time is on your side. Step back and think about it.”