DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Attendees at an April 25 meeting of Senior Network at the Morton Avenue Municipal Building had the opportunity to learn how to avoid becoming victims of various scams and frauds, which have become more sophisticated and widespread with advances in technology.
“What we want to talk about is fraud and mail fraud,” Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Dennis Dyer said. He said residents will come into the police department with suspicious letters they have received in the mail, often promising them money in exchange for a small fee, and he estimated at least 75-90 percent of these mailings are fraudulent.
“These people are so good and we have senior citizens who fall for this,” Dyer said. He mentioned an example of someone sending $25,000 overseas after replying to a notice that a person they had never even met had been jailed.
U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Desrosiers spoke next, and he said he is one of the state’s two postal inspectors. “Our job is to ensure people trust the mail, and if people are scamming you are you trusting the mail?” he said. Desrosiers said postal inspectors handle post office robberies and burglaries, mail fraud and theft, dangerous mail such as items containing drugs, hazardous substances and threatening letters, and credit card and identify theft.
“There are 1,200 postal inspectors in the entire country, that’s not a lot of resources,” Desrosiers said. He explained he works for the smallest federal law enforcement agency in the U.S., and the only one that is not funded with taxpayer dollars.
“All scams are designed for a single purpose … to separate you from your money,” Desrosiers said. “Most of the scams today are being perpetrated from across the seas,” he said, mentioning European and African countries as the homes of many scammers looking to fleece American citizens of their money. “For the bad guys it’s win-win, they can scam us all day long but what can I do from here? My laws end at the border. That’s why we are trying to get the word out what the scams are.”
Desrosiers told the over dozen seniors in attendance, “Before you send money make sure you know and trust where it is going because once it is gone you will never see it again. The only way we can stop it is to educate American citizens.” National Consumer Protection Week, held annually in early March, promotes such a awareness and Desrosiers also said information is available at www.deliveringtrust.com.