MUSKEGON, Mich. — Members of the SafeSeniors task force in Muskegon County are working to identify, advocate and seek justice for older adult victims of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
Task force members are also passing out "superhero for seniors" awards to recognizing community members who take steps to protect older adults.
Tuesday, the task force assembled at the Muskegon Walgreens on East Sherman Boulevard to give the first “superhero for seniors” award to Jessica Barnett, the store’s assistant manager.
Barnett’s actions prevented David Eisler, 82 of Norton Shores from being scammed out of $500.
"Working with the public there’s an intuition you have that something just isn't right," Barnett said.
Eisler purchased a $500 gift card to Target at the Walgreens but when scratching the card to reveal the redemption code Eisler unintentionally made the code illegible.
Eisler was told by the scammer the gift card's redemption code was needed as a processing fee for an Amazon order.
The redemption code allows thieves to use the gift card without Eisler's consent. It's a scam Eisler triggered by clicked on an unsolicited e-mail.
Inside the Walgreens and with the scammer on the phone Eisler attempted to return the damaged gift card for a new one. Leading him to Barnett, who felt something wasn’t right.
"I just felt compelled to help,” Barnett said.
Barnett was concerned because to her it seemed the person on Eisler’s phone was telling him what to do.
She eventually asked if she could talk with the person, quickly bringing the scam to an end. Then she worked to help Eisler get the gift card purchase refunded.
the SafeSeniors task force includes two detectives, one from Norton Shores and one from the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department, and a dedicated prosecutor with the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office. It’s supported with funds from the Muskegon County Senior Millage.
The task force works to educate community members about the latest scams targeting seniors and to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against older adults.
"To make sure these cases get followed through from beginning to end and they’re taken seriously," Safe Seniors Coordinator Chris Burnaw said.
“Prosecuting these individuals who are scamming our senior citizens, that’s the whole point behind this task force," added Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson.
SafeSeniors can be reached at 855-444-3911, 231-726-7104, or by e-mail email@example.com
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.