EDITORIAL: Protect the vulnerable

Any of us can be the victim of a fraud, but the lowlifes who run this sort of crime like best to victimize the elderly.

Any of us can be the victim of a fraud, but the lowlifes who run this sort of crime like best to victimize the elderly.

What makes this sort of crime so heinous is that seniors are targeted for being vulnerable. It must be pointed out that most seniors are savvy enough to be aware and protect themselves. Some, however, are not, and a criminal enterprise seeks to ferret them out.

Sadly, some criminal has crawled out from under his or her slimy rock and is aiming at seniors in the Okanagan in phone calls falsely claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. The aggressive patter is that these people have been found in arrears with the CRA and have to pay up. The caller requests immediate payment by credit card or convinces the victims to purchase a prepaid credit card and to call back immediately with the information. The taxpayer is often threatened with arrest, charges, jail or deportation. Aside from losing money, the additional risk is providing enough personal information for further identity theft.

The criminals rely not on gullibility or even innocence, but people — seniors or not — who find it hard to conceive of someone stooping so low as to imitate the taxman and use threats of arrest or deportation. And because there are such people out there, we have to pay extra attention to protecting the vulnerable in our society. It’s one thing to chat with Mom or Dad to warn them, which every relative of a vulnerable senior ought to do. The real problem is that there is a large segment in that vulnerable category who have no relatives to provide such warnings. Again, the criminals rely on exploiting a vulnerability.

Keeping our seniors safe from these and other crimes is everybody’s responsibility. That means the most effective way to protect our seniors from fraud is to talk with them. Criminals rely on loneliness, isolation and lack of information for their exploitive schemes to be effective.

Crime is not just the responsibility of the police. We all need to participate in creating a society where exploitation is not just difficult, but almost impossible.