×

Through jeopardy game, DA’s Office gives lesson on senior scams

  • Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci hosts Savvy Seniors Jeopardy Showdown at the Erving Senior Community Center on Tuesday. March 6, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

  • Savvy Seniors Jeopardy Showdown at the Erving Senior Community Center on Tuesday. March 6, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

  • Seniors debate their answer at Savvy Seniors Jeopardy Showdown at the Erving Senior Community Center on Tuesday. From left are Judy Anderson, Robbin Terault, Thelma Downs, Rae Kowacki and Carole Lyman. March 6, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

  • Rachael Senecal and others from the Northwestern District Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit run an informative game show called Savvy Seniors Jeopardy Showdown at the Erving Senior Community Center on Tuesday. March 6, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

  • Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci hosts Savvy Seniors Jeopardy Showdown at the Erving Senior Community Center on Tuesday. March 6, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

ERVING — It’s National Consumer Protection Week, and some savvy seniors decided to test their knowledge of scams at the Erving Senior Center.

The Tuesday afternoon event was hosted by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, and it gave attendees a chance to win candy for correct answers in a jeopardy game.

“This is a way to provide information in a fun way,” said Rachel Senecal, coordinator of the DA’s Elders and Persons with Disabilities Unit.

Senecal and Anita Wilson, case coordinator for the DA’s Consumer Protection Unit, wrote questions related safety and scams, two relevant topics for the 20 competitors’ demographic. The questions were divided into four categories, with difficulty levels ranging from 100 to 500.

The game was structured similarly to the television program, except for the trademark answer-and-question format. Instead, contestants were provided questions and chose from four possible answers.

Crowded around two tables, the two teams of seniors seemed to answer most questions correctly, often calling out the correct answer before the question was finished being read.

One question, however, stumped most:

Say, Steven, a 63-year-old man who led a successful business career, has recently retired. Who, statistically, is the most likely to try and take advantage of him and his finances?

Jeremy Bucci, the DA’s chief trial counsel who emceed the event, asked the question.

He read some possible answers: the bank teller who has access to Steven’s account information, the laid-off nephew Steven is temporarily helping financially, the waitress who writes down Steven’s credit card information out of his sight.

A scheming waitress doing the ordinary by asking for Steven’s credit card to pay for his meal, and then recording the numbers in the back was seemingly the most possible by consensus.

“The waitress,” teammates muttered to each other, the silent teammates nodding their heads in agreement.

They were wrong.

Statistically, as the DA’s Consumer Protection Unit Director Janice Garrett pointed out, it is the nephew who is most likely to take advantage of Steven.

Steven, who trusts the relative he’s helping get back on his feet, could let his guard down and have his money stolen from the cash-strapped nephew.

The purpose of Tuesday’s event, while filled with laughter and fun, was to educate.

The scenarios the DA’s Office provided for each question were realistic:

When the Internal Revenue Service calls and tells seniors they are behind on paying taxes, should they pay over the phone with a credit card, pay via a money transfer or immediately call the IRS back to confirm?

No, they should do nothing; the IRS will never call for a payment.

When an advertisement claims a free trial offer for a skin cream, to be delivered to the senior’s home for merely a 99-cent shipping fee, what is the catch?

Always read the fine print, the DA’s Office suggests. Many such offers will sign someone up for monthly payments after the first 30-day free trial period.

On Thursday, March 8, at the South Hadley Senior Center at 45 Dayton St., South Hadley, at 10:45 a.m., the DA’s office is scheduled to host another jeopardy for seniors.

David McLellan can be reached at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268