LEE COUNTY, Fla. - "Snowbird" season is upon us. But as seasonal residents make their return, so do the thieves looking to rip them off.
Wednesday, authorities reported two more cases of seniors targeted by fraud: a Lee County woman who lost money to a caller posing as her grandson; and a Charlotte County man fell victim to a fake sweepstakes.
As common as it seems, thieves are still getting away with it; which is why more and more senior communities are working to stop them.
"I think they're from a generation where you trusted everybody," said Bob Emmert of Lee County, who knows of people who have been approached by con artists. "People who've wanted to inspect their roof, of course they always find something wrong with it, take the money up front and you never see it again."
But Emmert's senior community faces fraud head on, working with the Lee County Sheriff's Office to get out the latest warnings.
"Every Tuesday we have a coffee klatch that a lot of the people go to, we present information from there and the sheriff's department that we have a close relationship with," Emmert said.
"The whole idea is to educate seniors and anyone else out there on how to protect themselves from becoming the victim of a scam or a fraud or identity theft," said Stacey Payne of LCSO Crime Prevention.
The Sheriff's office "CASE" program, or "Communities Against Senior Exploitation," visits senior communities with fraud warnings. They also send out regular updates on common cons, like the grandparent scam:
"Somebody calls and says grandma, grandpa, I'm in jail, I've been in a crash, whatever the case may be, send me money," Payne describes. "Before they just start sending money, ask some questions that only the grandson or the granddaughter would know."
Emmert says spreading those warnings has kept his neighborhood largely fraud-free.
"We keep each other informed, we watch our neighbor's backs all the time," Emmert said.
Lee County has a dedicated fraud line, where specialists look into potential scams, at 239-477-1242.
Collier County also runs a similar CASE program. For information on their crime prevention programs, call 239-252-0722.