Michael Berl and his mother, Barbara, receive phone calls from scammers at least once a week asking for personal information. Berl says it’s no surprise that con artists target the elderly when looking to make a quick buck. Berl says, "The elderly folks are susceptible to scams. They come from a different era. They're much more trusting." A prime example is the recent armed robbery by a wanted fugitive, Donald William Falls. Police say the suspect is especially known to target the elderly. In the small neighborhood of Kim Cove, a woman was held at gunpoint in her own home by a man she thought she could trust, and even live with.
Berl says the community needs to help play a role in educating seniors about the latest threats to their safety. The Donal M. Snyder Community Center strives to do just that, by not only keeping the elderly active through aerobics classes, but keeping them alert as well. James Payton, the Manager at the Donal M. Snyder Community Center, says, "You hear about it all the time, the way folks take advantage of the seniors here, and sometimes by just being able to network with somebody else here, they can be on the lookout for things like that, and when they happen." Gloria Harlan, an aerobics instructor, says, "We do talk some about being careful and someone will come in and mention some kind of scam that’s going on for seniors and watch out for this on your computer or somebody calling you on the phone. They trade that information around."
Con artists and their crimes are becoming more elaborate as technology advances, but by keeping community members active and in the know, it could prevent the elderly from becoming such an easy target. The senior's next seminar about safety is this Thurday at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jefferson Davis campus.