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BETHLEHEM — Residents can attend a free two-hour presentation called “Don’t Get Scammed!” on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Bethlehem Town Hall’s auditorium, to learn to steer away from scams.
The event will also teach locals the latest techniques that people, who are seeking to trick and swindle them, use so that they can be one step ahead in case such a situation becomes a reality. Scams to be touched on include the IRS scam, the grandparent scam, distraction burglaries, and Social Security scams.
The program will be presented by Erin Mitchell, the associate state director of AARP. It will feature a panel discussion, consisting of Detective Ken Beck of the Bethlehem Police Department (BPD); Karen Ziegler, the director of Crime Victims and Sexual Violence Center; and Bernard Amador, a supervising caseworker from Albany County Crime Victims and Sexual Violence Center.
BPD Commander Adam Hornick said that while the event is open to all ages, it is “aimed at the elderly primarily because they’re the most vulnerable group of people to scams. But everyone is welcomed to attend because the information is equally valuable for all.”
Speaking of the elderly, the town’s Senior Services department can provide free transportation to the event for local residents aged 60 and older living in their own homes or apartments.
Hornick continued by saying that there have been scams that affect locals across town.
An example is distraction burglaries in North Bethlehem where a person poses as a service worker and asks to enter a resident’s property, claiming to fix something in or outside the house. The resident mistakenly would let them in and after the alleged service worker leaves after supposedly fixing the issue, they would discover that personal valuables like money have gone missing.
Another example is the so-called grandparent scam where an unknown person would call an elderly person and pretend that he or she is their grandson or granddaughter who has been arrested. The unknown person would tell the elderly individual that he or she can only be “released” from jail if they wired some money over. Such an unknown person would sometimes know the actual names of the elderly individual’s grandchild, hence further tricking them into thinking the call is legitimate.
When asked how often free town presentations like this scam-oriented one happen, Hornick said, “it varies on the needs of the public. Sometimes, town presentations appeal more to specific groups of people.”
He added that there are no future general town presentations at this time.
This presentation, occurring in the Bethlehem Town Hall’s auditorium on 445 Delaware Ave. in Delmar, is co-sponsored by the Albany County Department for Aging and the Town of Bethlehem Senior Services.