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Seniors Vs. Crime

I often bring readers news about criminal investigations we’ve opened at the Volusia Sheriff’s Office to help local residents who have unwittingly become victims of fraud.

This time, I’m writing about Seniors Vs. Crime, a very helpful resource right here in Volusia County whose main goal is to prevent or reduce victimization of seniors who are targeted for specific crimes because of their age.
You don’t have to be a senior to qualify for help. This volunteer program helps adults of all ages, in all 67 Florida counties.

 

Recently, I sat down with Joyce Aycock and Anthony Luizzo, two of the six volunteers at the Volusia County office of Seniors Vs. Crime. They meet with clients on Thursdays at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in South Daytona. (http://tiny url.com/55rnc4sd)

This program was created in 1989 by the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Legislature, and AARP.
It’s not a law enforcement agency. It is a conduit of volunteers whom you can call or e-mail and they can determine how to best help. If you or someone you know believes you have been taken advantage of, cheated out of money, or you haven’t received what you were promised, Seniors vs. Crime can help.

Anthony, a retired law enforcement officer himself, has compiled a list of Dirty Dozen Scams, common types of fraud that befall unsuspecting victims. They include banking scams (credit card, ID thievery), romance or sweetheart swindling scams, and grandparents scams, all of which my detectives tackle regularly.
Seniors vs. Crime volunteers help mediate or communicate on behalf of victims, trying to achieve some agreement or satisfaction. If a case is criminal, it’s directed to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Senior Protection Team, comprised of attorneys and investigators.

One of the best things I see with this program is seniors are helping seniors. Many older folks feel embarrassed and reluctant to report that they’ve been scammed. So they’re more comfortable talking with senior volunteers who are caring and trained to help, and can reassure them that they’re not alone.

Joyce and Anthony shared good advice, including:

  • Don’t feel pressured when a stranger calls or e-mails you. There’s no decision so important that you can’t take time to ask for a phone number and tell them you’ll call them back. (That’s when you call a trusted friend, family member, or the Sheriff’s Office).
  • Even better: If you don’t recognize a (caller’s) phone number, Don’t answer.
  • When you buy something, keep the paperwork or a signed copy of a contract you’ve signed. That will help volunteers work on your behalf.
  • Don’t be quick to click! If you’re being led to click on a link or attachment, Don’t do it. Instead, look up the website yourself; don’t rely on a link because it can be fake, misleading, or a scam.
  • When you look up your account on your phone or computer and the computer automatically asks if you want to save your password, don’t. (Instead, keep your password written safely in a book that you keep with you). Otherwise, anyone who uses your computer has access to your password/s. That’s one way ID theft begins.

To Contact Seniors Vs. Crime:

  • E-mail:volusia@SVCproject.org E-mailing may prompt the quickest response.
  • Website: www.seniorsvscrime.com
  • Phone: 800.203.3099; or 407.537.9509.
  • Office hours: Thur., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
  • Address: 724 Big Tree Rd., Room 7, South Daytona.

How It Works:

  • Complete a form requesting assistance by going to the local Seniors Vs. Crime office, above‚ or volunteers can mail you that form.
  • Using the website, www.seniorsvscrime. com users can click on an option to file a complaint that goes to the
  • Or you can file a complaint on the AG’s office at www.myfloridalegal.com

I salute Seniors Vs. Crime and their volunteers for what they’re doing for our community. One of our most treasured possessions in Volusia County is our seniors. This is a helpful resource: The volunteers can get you where you need to go. I hope you’ll take advantage of this wonderful program.

Let’s make 2024 a healthy, safe year for everyone,
Sheriff Chitwood