Several speakers gave presentations during the forum, including Ashe County Commissioner William Sands, who spoke on behalf of the sheriffs office.
"A few years ago, an FBI
agent stated that people in the mountains of Western North Carolina were hit hardest by out of country scams.
Our people are very trusting," said Sands
also said "once money leaves the United States, any recovery is nearly impossible."
After the meeting, Sands
said there are several different ways for elders to lose money in scams.
"Investment/ponzi scams have taken life savings from a number of Ashe County citizens.
One person was charged with taking over $250,000 and most were Ashe County victims," said Sands
In this case, the suspect did not come to superior court and was also charged with failure to appear in court.
The police continued to search for him.
According to Sands
, several residents have invested and lost money in ponzi scams originating outside of Ashe County.
Black Diamond was operated from Ashe
, but no investors were found in our county.
Victims loss $40 million, said Sands
also said lottery scams continue to be a problem.
People are told they have won large amounts of money, sometimes in the millions.
At the same time, they receive counterfeit checks, ranging from a thousand to several thousand dollars.
The victim is told to cash the check, wire the larger portion to pay taxes and handling and keep the smaller amount, said Sands
The check bounces and the victim is responsible to the bank.
The winner's check never comes, said Sands
"We see fewer people taken in by this scam than in the past.
People have become more aware, and our local banks keep a close watch for these checks," said Sands
Within the past few months, people have been notified they are winners, but rather than wire large amounts of money for taxes, the request is to send only $20 which is used to verify the winner's eligibility.
Of course, the winner check never comes, only many unwanted scam letters, said Sands
"People need to remember," said Sands
, "you should never have to pay for anything you have won."
According to Sands, elders should be very careful when purchasing items through the Internet, such as ebay, Auto Trader and Craig's List.
"Most ads are legit, but some people never receive their purchase," said Sands
Identity theft was also mentioned and is a big concern, said Sands
"Protect bank account and credit card information.
Check or have someone check your monthly statements as soon as possible," said Sands
Concerns about home safety were also mentioned during Tuesday's meeting.
Don't let people into your home without knowing them or verifying who they work for.
also said elders should be aware when paying for home repairs before work completed.
David Kirkland, from the N.C. Attorney Generals Office, agreed with Sands
and told a story about an unidentified elderly couple from Wake County that was exploited.