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VOL. 40 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 12, 2016

Protecting seniors from predators

By Linda Bryant

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Alex Marcotte, right, of Victory Over Crime, listens as Freddie Hester shares her story of being victimized by fraud.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

Aging in place, being able to live at home in more or less independent circumstances, is what most seniors say they long for, and what advocates for the elderly recommend when possible.

But while comfort and familiarity can improve a senior’s quality of life, issues persist for all seniors, including dealing with crime and abuse.

Freddie Hester, 91, and living on her own in Nashville at Trevecca Towers, turned to FiftyForward’s Victory Over Crime program when she was scammed by two perpetrators – multiple times by a “save Social Security’’ mail fraud and over a period of time by a “friendly’’ neighbor who gained access to Hester’s debit card and systematically drained her bank account. Hester thought the card was hidden.

Victory Over Crime officials stepped in, offering support and counseling, as well as advocating for her with her bank, the police and post office.

Although the neighbor has not been apprehended and has left the state, Hester says FiftyForward and its anti-crime division, “helped me a lot. I just felt drained. I was confused and didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t know this could happen to me, and I’m still surprised it did.’’

FiftyForward, an organization aiding senior adults, families and children in Middle Tennessee, serves 20,000 individuals with a wide range of services and seven locations.

Advocates say financial fraud is common but also warn that seniors and their friends and families should be alert to other possibilities such as purse snatching, robbery, home invasion, rape, domestic violence, elder abuse and neglect, and even abuse by someone close to the individual.

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