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Living 60+: RCMP helping seniors facing possible scams

Wait to donate is key advice – real charities will be patient
Cpl. Valerie Conroy and Const. Peter Mann both work in Langley RCMP units that reach out to seniors. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

When it comes to scams, seniors are often targeted.

One of the more insidious types of scams is the charity scam. Instead of playing on the desire for a quick buck, as in many investment frauds, a charity scam plays on empathy and a desire to help – it’s especially popular during the Christmas season.

“Those kind of things are despicable,” said Cpl. Craig Van Herk, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.

Fortunately, officers and civilian staff with the local detachment have plenty of resources to help seniors – both those who are worried they could be scammed, and those who already have been.

“Our community policing section (CPS) is here for the community, and seniors are an important part of the community,” Van Herk said.

One of those CPS officers is Const. Peter Mann, who will be meeting with a local seniors group in the coming months to give a presentation on fraud and how to avoid it.

Mann and other CPS officers are available for meeting with groups of local seniors to talk about fraud and other issues.

“When COVID was going on, I would do a monthly phone-in,” Mann said.

Also on the front lines helping seniors as part of her duties is Cpl. Valerie Conroy, a member of the police mental health liaison unit.

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“We’ll get involved when a senior is needing some support,” Conroy said, noting that can include looking into cases of financial abuse, which has some overlap with scams and frauds.

With the holidays approaching, it may seem normal to get calls, emails, or even people at the door asking for donations and appearing to be from legitimate charities, Van Herk said.

“These fraudsters aren’t always bold and obvious,” said Van Herk. “They’re sometimes very subtle.”

If in doubt about whether or not those asking for a donation are from a legitimate charity, Van Herk said there is a simple answer – don’t give right away.

As someone who has been involved in raising funds for charities, including the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer ride, Van Herk said that a real charity will never object to getting a donation in a few days or weeks. The need is always there for real charities.

“Nothing is a rush,” he emphasized.

That extra time can allow seniors to check into whether the charity is legitimate.

“Get those links directly from a trusted source,” said Van Herk.

Seniors can talk to their children or grandchildren, friends, neighbours, and even local RCMP, if they’re in doubt.

The Langley RCMP victim services organization has a lot of info on scams, and can be contacted at 604-532-3214. They can email information, or even print it out and mail it to seniors who don’t use computers.

In the case of people going door-to-door, which is rare but not unheard of for legitimate charities, if there’s any suspicion at all, seniors can call the Langley RCMP non-emergency number at 604-532-3200.

With many phone and internet scams, it’s impossible to catch the perpetrators or get any money back – the scammers are often overseas, Van Herk said. But if someone is door knocking for donations, officers can check them out, and either confirm that they’re legitimate, or start an investigation if they aren’t.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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