Scammers targeting seniors

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SARASOTA COUNTY - Crooks recently tried to run the fake lottery scam on Venice resident Beth Adams. She's got the bogus check to prove it. It's not the first time. "My daughter said I must be on a list. I do receive quite a few."

Thursday she and dozens of others come to hear the latest tricks. "I thought I would come and find out what I should do if they continue."

It's called Operation Stop Adult Financial Exploitation, or S.A.F.E. for short. It's run through Florida's Department of Financial Services. "The purpose of these workshops is to educate seniors empower them and inform them," says Tasha Carter with the organization.

There are a lot to choose from; Lotto, sweepstake, insurance, annuities, money transfer and reverse mortgage scams.  Identity theft and bogus contractors, too. With seniors controlling 70% of the nation's wealth, the practice of conning seniors rakes in nearly $3 billion a year. "Often times seniors are not aware of who to report the fraud to. They are also often times afraid of letting their family know they have made a potentially bad decision."

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight says they're seeing reports every day. "Many of the times when people come to us it's more of an anxiety or urgent type situation where there is no going back."

The problem he says is many of the scams are being done by people out of the country giving law enforcement no authority. He says with programs like this many are wising up. "Our population is becoming much more aware. Many times they will call our office and ask us to validate something that was given to them from over the telephone or internet."

Working to make sure those like Adams who have worked so hard keep their hard earned money. "The people that are leery should be careful because the scammers are out there."

The state has even set up a number for you to call if you think something isn't right. That number is 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.

There is also a link to their sit at