Attorney General Mark Herring warns seniors about fraud, scams

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — John Clark, 83, keeps a close eye on his money.

“I check my bank account, credit card accounts every day to see if there’s some strange charge,” he said.

His diligence comes after someone stole his identity and threw his credit for a loop.

“A little bit of panic struck in,” he said.

A man from California opened an account in his name and bought a car in Las Vegas.

“I had not been to Las Vegas at that point for several years,” he said.

It’s taken about that long to get it back on track.

“I went to the credit bureau to try and clear up my credit. It took me almost three years to clear every charge that they had on there,” said Clark.

Now, he tells everyone to carefully check their own accounts.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Herring spoke with seniors about fraud and getting scammed at Chesterfield County’s 18th annual TRIAD Senior Day.

“They’ve worked a lifetime, they’ve saved responsibly and they should be able to enjoy their golden years without fear,” he said.

Herring says there are two things to keep in mind. First, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Second, wait 24 hours before taking action so you can do your research. He says these types of crimes are preventable, and that’s why his office is committed to getting the word out.

“They’re more sophisticated in how they commit and perpetrate these frauds. That’s why we’re working as hard as we can to stay one step ahead of them,” he said.

Like many people, Brenda Jenkin’s phone line is flooded with scam calls. She’s a volunteer with TRIAD, a partnership in Chesterfield that educates seniors about crime prevention and programs.

“It’s like clockwork. Every morning the same call, the same person,” she said.

Jenkins says many seniors are too scared or embarrassed to admit they’ve been duped by scammers and don’t want their families to know.

“You feel bad for these people because they’re trying to be independent. They’re trying to take care of their own business, but they’re trusting,” said Jenkins. “Older people were raised in a generation of trust. They were raised to respect authority and trust — and that’s where they get conned.”

Herring says since he’s been in office, the Medicaid fraud unit has returned $64 million, they’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars from banks and mortgage companies and gotten more than $100 million in debt relief for veterans and military families who were taken advantage of.

To learn more about what the Office of the Attorney General can do for you if you’ve been scammed, click here. To learn more about how to spot schemes targeting the elderly, click here.