Library seeks to help community avoid scams

« Austintown Neighbors


Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Rober Shaeffer discussed security with seniors gathered at the Austintown library Oct. 17 for the Fraud and Security event.


Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Robert Schaeffer, the coordinator of senior services through the Mahoning County Sheriff's office, spoke with seniors at the Austintown library about how to protect themselves from fraud and other scams Oct. 17.


Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Robert Schaeffer. the coordinator of senior services through the Mahoning County Sheriffs office gave a talk at the Austintown library Oct. 17 about fraud and security for seniors.


Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Robert Shaeffer spoke with community members about how to avoid dangerous situations and fraud at the Austintown library.


Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Community members gathered at the Austintown library Oct. 17 to meet with a representative from the Mahoning County Sheriff's office about fraud and security for seniors.


The Austintown library hosted a fraud and safety event on Oct. 17 to help local seniors avoid becoming victims.

Deputy Robert Schaeffer, the senior services coordinator with the Mahoning County Sheriffs office, ran the event.

“Basically these scams are towards the elderly but really it can apply to anyone,” Schaeffer said.

He explained that seniors are often targeted for a variety of reasons, including the assumptions that they have money put away for retirement, and the common fear many seniors have that they don’t have enough money, which makes them more likely to invest in “get money quick” schemes.

“Seniors, we grew up in a time where you could leave your car unlocked, leave your house with the door unlocked, and it wasn’t an issue,” Schaeffer said. “Now, even if I am going to be back at my car in 10 minutes I always lock my doors.”

Schaeffer discussed safety with seniors gathered at the library, including various safety devices such as stun guns and personal alarms that are designed to keep people safe. He also discussed how to identify and avoid fraud and money scams.

Schaeffer identified a number of common scams, including what he referred to as “the grandchild scam,” as well as using the lottery or the IRS to get seniors to send money quickly.

“They call and say their grandchild has gotten in an accident in Mexico and they have to get out because its not a good place to be,” Schaeffer said. “People will send, and they will continue to send money.”

Scammers will also say that victims have won the lottery and have to pay taxes in advance or that they owe tax money and the IRS is going to have them arrested if they don’t pay it immediately.

“If anyone remembers anything leaving the room its that you never spend money to get money,” he said.

Schaeffer said that it is very common to be faced with these scams, and has himself received calls like this on his cell phone.

“I told them, well why don’t you meet me at my place of business, the Mahoning County Sheriffs Office, and they hang up immediately,” Schaeffer said.

He spent 36 years as an officer with the Austintown Police Department.

During that time Schaeffer said that he came in contact with a number of victims of scams like this, including one person who sent three payments of $2,000.

Schaeffer said that local detectives will try to track these scams, and that the Attorney General is always interested in information on these types of scams. He said that if you do fall victim to a scam like this, or if you receive information baiting you into a scam you should contact both your local department and report it to the Attorney General.

Attorney General Mike Dewine’s website has a long list of specific information on how to avoid scams such as these that is available to the public. Schaeffer also said the website sends out emails regularly about current scams to help the public stay informed. To access this information go to

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