Dear Editor:

I would like to address your article about phone and email scams targeting Santa Monicans by Nicholas Salazar. Although the article was written as a public awareness article, I feel the police department is not doing enough to go after telephone scammers who target the elder- ly. If the victim in the story, Ms. Bloem had been mugged and $1500 dollars had been taken out of her purse, I think that felony would have been taken more seriously. And yet someone committing fraud by impersonating a federal agent to take $1500 away from Ms. Bloem is seen as something the elderly need to be “aware of”. What if the next victim has a heart attack and dies because of the verbal abuse the caller places upon the victim. Would the police view this as murder or just another scammer people need to be “aware of.”

My Grandparents have been recently victimized. My grandparents were told that the US Treasury Department had money for them from an old bank account. To claim the money they had to wire some funds so the check could be sent Fedex. They were suspi- cious so they asked that info about the check be emailed to them, but instead they sent a virus that erased all their emails and wrecked havoc on their computer.

The police need to be more active and vigilant and not solely place responsibility on the victim. These are not victimless crimes. The police should provide caller ID to seniors who do not have it in order to get the phone number of those who call trying to scam them. If the number is unrecognizable then they should not answer it. I find that people who use caller ID are able to better avoid these scams. Reverse dial up will often reveal their actual location, which sometimes is in a local area.

Telling the caller that they will be reported to the FBI for impersonating a governmen- tal agency often works as well. Then when people do call the FBI fraud division and lodge a formal complaint with the caller’s phone number attached it helps decrees the number of these types of crimes committed. The Criminals need to be made “aware of” that someone will come after them.

Greater efforts need to be put in place to safeguard those who are most vulnerable and targeted in our society.

Antonio Okun

Santa Monica

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