Stay informed about regulatory developments related to COVID-19. NASAAMarty Jacobson is our Seniors Vs Crime Deputy Director. Marty served as a police officer for 35 years, of which 30 years were with the Stuart, Florida police department in Martin County. Marty has been a Seniors Vs Crime volunteer for over 30 years. Captain Brian Hester, with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's office, interviewed Marty on 10-8 about Seniors Vs Crime, a Special Project of the Florida Attorney General. In his interview, Marty explains who "Senior Sleuths" are and what we do:
Seniors Vs Crime offices are located throughout the state of Florida, and are staffed by volunteer managers and volunteer Senior Sleuths. Regional manager positions and above are paid positions. Senior Sleuths have helped recover over $28 million for citizens since the program began in 1989.
Complaints can be filed by Florida residents reporting a dispute that occurred within the state of Florida, or with an out of state company. Complaints can also be filed by out-of-state residents who engaged in a Florida transaction. The complaint must have something to do with Florida.
Sleuths don't always take the side of the complaining party. Sometimes it is a matter of managing expectations. Having a neutral third party listen to both sides and get the facts on paper can take some of the emotion out of a dispute. People mainly want straight answers. No one likes to be ignored.
Marty does a great job explaining how Senior Vs Crime volunteers work in collaboration with law enforcement, and how we support the Office of the Attorney General by responding to lesser complaints - so that all citizens can be heard! Sadly, the coronavirus has brought an even greater volume of complaints. We will take a closer look at coronavirus scams in an upcoming article.
When a complaint lacks certain elements, it drops below the level of a crime, becoming deceptive practices or exploitation. You are left with a civil or economic dispute between two parties. Senior Sleuths may deem a complaint criminal and refer to law enforcement, or a law enforcement officer may refer an economic or civil complaint to Seniors Vs Crime. The result is a win-win for both agencies, and for the citizens reporting. It is the role of the Sleuth to mitigate damages to make injured parties whole.
Those filing complaints in my region of Duval County, Florida, located at the Sheriff's Substation Zone 6 at the Highlands shopping center in Jacksonville, can be of any age. In Marty's 2019 interview, the complaining party must be a senior, a veteran, or a veteran's immediate family member.
History of Seniors Vs Crime
In 1989 the Florida Legislature ordered the Attorney General to form a task force to report on crime and the elderly. Mr. Vern Thornton served on the Task Force as a consultant with the AARP Criminal Justice Services. The Task Force found that seniors were being targeted for scams, were being subjected to high-pressure tactics by salespersons, and were being deceived by false advertising at an alarming frequency. Perhaps even more important than the raw numbers is the psychological and emotional impact of crime on older citizens.
"Super" Sleuths can perform undercover stings, capturing sales people utilizing high pressure sales techniques, or engaging in false and deceptive practices. The number of volunteers has grown statewide to over 2,000 Senior Sleuths.
How the Seniors vs Crime project works:
The services of the Seniors Vs Crime Project must be requested by the victim. The Project cannot respond to suggestions that a third party has a problem. Victims may be assisted in filing their complaint by family, friends or Power of Attorneys, but the victim must sign the Request for Assistance form before assistance can be rendered.
Two Options for Assistance:
· The person may only be looking for coaching "assistance" through a situation. Seniors Sleuths can advise the senior on how to handle a particular matter and not get involved with anyone except the senior. The victim is not required to sign anything to receive this type of assistance. It's just one senior talking with/advising another senior.
· A second option is for a Senior Sleuth to intervene to act as a mediator between the two parties. In these instances the Senior Sleuth will thoroughly research the complaint and attempt to mitigate the case with all parties involved. Many people initially only seek advice. After some discussion they quickly realize the situation is more complex, so they ask for a Senior Sleuth to assist in resolving the situation. This second option does require written authorization from the victim or certification through the complaint website.
Seniors Vs Crime Senior Sleuths do everything possible to reach a settlement without cost.
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