Seniors are targeted for many reasons: loneliness, lack of family support, age vulnerability and for health-related reasons such as Alzheimer’s. Seniors are particularly susceptible to fraud schemes because their generation tends to be more trusting and less likely to end conversations. Fraudulent telemarketers build relationships with seniors and gain their trust before victimizing them. Ruined family lives, great financial losses and suicides have resulted from this brutal crime against the elderly.
Unfortunately, staff at the CAFC found they had neither the time nor the resources to follow up with victimized seniors so the Centre decided to enlist volunteer seniors who could help with the battle against mass marketing and identity fraud. The volunteers were able to relate personal experiences, provide support and establish rapport with elderly victims. The “seniors helping seniors” program was named SeniorBusters.
SeniorBusters was officially launched by Premier Mike Harris in October 1997. Since then, it has grown to a group of approximately 50 active volunteers. They come from diverse backgrounds and bring many different skills to the CAFC and its attempt to reduce the level of mass marketing fraud and identity theft. This is clearly a successful and effective long-term strategy in reducing the number of seniors victimized by fraud.
SeniorBusters helps fraud victims by:
- Relating personal experiences, wisdom and expertise
- Providing strength to victims
- Providing emotional and moral support
- Being sensitive to the needs of seniors
- Contacting victims as often as needed
- Educating and re-educating seniors
- Obtaining suspect company information
- Referring victims to other appropriate agencies
- Developing personal relationships with victims
- Ensuring that seniors have a place to turn to when they need assistance
- Helping victimized seniors regain personal dignity