(Crystal A Proxmire, March 4, 2017)
Ferndale, MI – As part of efforts to do community outreach, Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown paid a visit to the Ferndale Senior Group in February to give them advice on ways to stay safe.
“You get this perception that criminals just target seniors. But that’s not true. We get people of all ages that come in that have been taken advantage of,” Sgt. Brown said. “So these aren’t just for seniors, they’re for everybody. Younger people fall for it. Older people fall for it.”
IRS OR POLICE CALLS
One phone scam that’s been increasing in use is to call people tell them they owe money for a ticket, an arrest warrant or some kind of violation. They say there is a fine involved and attempt to collect a payment. If the person does not want to pay over the phone, the caller may threaten them with jail.
“We had a case where someone had ordered diet pills online, and someone called saying they were from the DEA saying they were illegal and they had a warrant for their arrest,” Sgt. Brown said. “There were so many things wrong with their story. They were mixing up state and federal terms, like warrant and indictment. But even if you don’t know that it just makes sense that no police department is going to say they want you to pay over the phone. We want to reach out and touch you, get your mugshot and your fingerprints.”
CHECK CASHING SCHEME
Another scam involves a person agreeing to cash a check and wire money back to the sender. This can be under the guise of winning a prize and needing to send back the fee, or a way to process inheritance.
“I think sometimes people fall for it because they want to believe it. Who wouldn’t want unexpected money? But you need to remember, if it looks too good to be true it probably is.”
PEOPLE AT THE DOOR
“Letting people in gives them a chance to steal. Sometimes while you’re distracted by one person, there’s someone else counting on you to leave the door unlocked. They can get in and get out without you even knowing they were there.”
Adding to this problem is the fact that people think they are being clever when they hide money and valuables. “The bad guys know where you keep your stuff. They’ll always look in your drawers, the tops of your closet, under your mattress. When they go to jail there’s nothing to do but talk, and what do you think they talk about? They talk about the places people hide stuff.” Brown recommended that people get a safe for their home.
There are often reports of thieves going into unlocked cars and taking valuables and change. Sgt. Brown advised people to always lock their car doors, and to not leave valuables like laptops, purses and wallets in their cars because thieves will break windows to get to them.
Another problem is that thieves have begun using vehicles to push cars parked on the street to different locations, usually in Detroit, to steal the wheels off the cars. “If you see a car being pushed by another car, you should call the police,” he said.
FEARS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY
Seniors had questions about fears associated with technology, with folks wondering about being tracked through their cell phones, or someone being able to replicate their key fab codes.
“Technology has made life easier, but there’s a price to pay,” Sgt. Brown said. “But for the most part the criminals you’re more likely to see are not using technology, they’re just out looking for opportunities, like unlocked doors. Of all the things that are possible, we need to worry about what’s most probable.”
Sgt. Brown, who is the Ferndale Police Department’s Community Liaison, grew up in Ferndale and started working summers for the city in 1987. He worked in code enforcement and in the DPW before becoming a police officer in 1995. His wife is in law enforcement in Auburn Hills.
Learn more about the Ferndale Police at https://www.ferndalepolice.org/.
Learn more about the Ferndale Seniors at http://www.ferndalemi.gov/Services/Recreation/Seniors.