Helping seniors learn to spot scams
Edward Nelson is determined to take down scammers. Through his nonprofit organization, End Elder Fraud, he works feverishly to stay up-to-date on the latest ploys and tactics by the ill-intended and turns his learnings into teachings for the 60+ community.
As a former computer programmer with experience in security fraud prevention, Nelson has been trying to take down scammers for the past decade. Realizing that it is nearly impossible to put a dent in the scam industry, he has shifted his primary focus to educating people. “My initial goal was to put a dent in this plague, but honestly it’s like trying to drain the ocean with a teaspoon,” said Nelson.
Scams come in many forms including email, text, phone calls, and mail and in-person solicitations. Nelson engages directly with scammers to learn about practices and tactics as well as to use up scammers’ time that would otherwise be spent on someone else who might fall for the bait. “I want to make the elders in our community so innately aware of these scams that they no longer are confused nor open to being taken advantage of,” shared Nelson.
There are three primary components to his program: proactive awareness training through town hall community events, post-training activities such as a newsletter, and taking down scammer sites by collaborating quickly with internet service providers.
Nelson shares that scammers like to work their way in with fear and intimidation. “If you don’t know the caller, don’t answer it,” shared Nelson, adding that scammers want to talk to a live person and not get voicemail. As for emails and texts, he says never click if you don’t know who it is and never buy gift cards to pay someone you don’t know,” he added. “If something is real and important, you will eventually find out.”
According to Nelson, he recently partnered with Cathy Wilson, a licensed professional counselor, director of LifePaths Counseling Center, and author of the book, The Emotional Impact of Being Scammed and How to Recover.
“With Cathy’s guidance, we are building an end-to-end program to prevent scams through awareness training and for victims and families impacted by scams – a remarkable aid to help navigate the difficult path to recovery,” said Nelson.
Town hall community events are offered at local libraries, and private events – such as one held for Legacy Village residents this past spring – are offered on-site. Nelson has several events planned through the end of September. This fall and winter, he plans to pivot to more online sessions to allow for greater participation.
To learn more about Nelson’s nonprofit, including how to submit a scam report and to see a list of upcoming town hall opportunities, visit endelderfraud.org.
By Elean Gersack; photos courtesy of Edward Nelson