POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 33 Police, students partner to stop fraud against seniors Originally published in The Guardian, March 14, 2012 By Jim Day Mark Wekwete is safeguarding seniors against fraud. The university student is a member of Students in Free Enterprise UPEI, a group of students dedicated to using their education and knowledge to make a difference at school and in their community. One of the more successful projects developed by SIFE focuses on helping seniors protect themselves from scams that could bilk them of hundreds of dollars or much, much more. SIFE UPEI placed second in a regional financial education challenge that has qualified them for a national competition. This marks the second year SIFE has partnered with the Charlottetown Police Services to equip seniors in the capital city with the knowledge and awareness to thwart fraudsters. The campaign focuses on residents of senior homes who live independently and commonly look after their own finances, thus making them vulnerable to costly fraud. Wekwete, vice-president of SIFE UPEI, urges seniors not to share personal information over the telephone and cautions them not to feel pressured into making a purchase or donation until they can determine whether or not the potential exchange is legitimate. He says seniors who have been educated are relieved of the stress and fear of becoming scammed. They are able to see the signs and are educated for prevention. Following a fraud prevention presentation, seniors can shred any sensitive documents that contain personal information. “Some seniors are so suspicious we will shred Christmas cards (at their request) for them,” said Const. Len Weatherbie of the Charlottetown Police Service, who works with SIFE toward preventing seniors from being victims of fraud. Weatherbie says seniors often ask how they can avoid getting unwanted calls like hard-sale pitches. He advises seniors to register with the National Do Not Call List – a free service that aims to reduce the amount of unsolicited telephone calls and faxes received by Canadians. Once on the Do Not Call List, seniors can be even more on guard when receiving unsolicited calls that could be a scam. SIFE estimates more than $20,000 is lost to fraud each year on P.E.I. but notes that the majority of cases likely go unreported. Residents of senior homes or a senior group in Charlottetown interested in receiving a fraud prevention presentation can contact Const. Len Weatherbie at 629-4153. GUARDIAN PHOTO Const. Len Weatherbie of the Charlottetown Police Services teams up with Mark Wekwete, vice-president of SIFE UPEI, to help seniors in the capital city safeguard themselves against fraud. UPEI group helping thwart fraud qualify for national competition