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'Exploitation is happening': Boise elders attend training session for senior-targeting scams in Idaho

Law enforcement, senior advocates and financial professionals hosted the training session at Boise Police Dept. to discuss senior-targeting scams occurring in Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — Hundreds of people in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley are falling victim to scammers, according to Boise Police Department. The issue impacting Idahoans is part of a larger, nationwide network of scam artists - funneling billions of dollars from scams that are specifically designed to target senior citizens.

On Wednesday, the Boise Police Department (BPD) hosted a training session for elder and vulnerable adults to learn about the local scams in circulation. While the elderly are most often the demographic taken advantage of, BPD noted that the same warning signs apply to everyone within our community. 

"Exploitation is happening," said Detective Brad Thorne with BPD's financial crimes unit. "The senior population is growing, so I think that it's great to have law enforcement, adult protection, financial institutions, everybody else who deals with this - but I think it starts at home. Recognizing that we need to have that conversation about scam abuse, we need to have a conversation about the trends that are happening."

Local law enforcement and senior advocacy groups hosted the forum alongside Paul Greenwood, a former prosecutor and advocate who specializes in adult abuse and financial exploitation - where they informed attendees of how to identify and report the violating attempts to take advantage of seniors.

"I think across the board with victims in general, you have only a small percentage that report the scams. And those that have known that there's abuse - financial or physical - don't report. So, I think the whole point would be report," Thorne said.

Among the most common senior-targeting scams are romance scams and virus scams, often via telephone calls. BPD stated that the elderly are often a scammers ideal target because they are of a population with "money to lose."

Thorne suggested that elders and vulnerable adults have an open line of communication with family members that may be more informed or equipped to recognize the threats. 

Due to the evolution of technology and artificial intelligence, scammers are now capable of duplicating the exact sound of a person's voice, further tricking and convincing the scam victim that they are speaking to someone familiar. Thorne even advised that a code word be used when family members and friends call, especially in the event that money is being requested from the elderly individual.

In closing of the training session, Thorne reiterated the importance of alerting authorities to potential scams. He said that local law enforcement is aware of the issue, and that necessary arrangements are in place to help those in need.

"If you get that [scam] information, get it to the right person. We have adult protection here, we have financial institutions here, we have law enforcement here. So, this group is here to help."

To report a potential scam to authorities, file a report online here or call Boise Police Department non-emergency phone number at (208) 570-6000.

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