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Posted On: 11/28/2016

Scam Squad: County-wide taskforce created to combat scams

County-wide taskforce created to combat scams that prey on older residents

Media Contacts:

Donisha Greene: (216) 443-7075, or

CLEVELAND - Scam Squad unites nonprofits and social service agencies with local, state and federal law enforcement in the fight against fraud. The goal of the taskforce is to make it easier for seniors to report scams and to allow agencies to quickly share information about scams with each other and with the public.

“As people age, they are often a target of scam artists”, said County Executive Armond Budish. “We want and need to do more to protect our seniors, our parents and grandparents. That’s why we are creating the scam squad, which will target enforcement and education efforts to help seniors protect the assets they’ve built up over a lifetime.”

The widely cited MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse estimates that, nationwide, older Americans lose about $2.6 billion a year to fraud. Some studies put losses much higher, but it’s hard to know for sure because relatively few seniors report scams.

The Scam Squad, chaired by the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs and its Director, Sheryl Harris, taps into existing senior and law enforcement networks to:

  • Rapidly identify current fraud threats to older residents
  • Ensure scam reports reach the appropriate enforcement agencies
  • Make sure victims get a “warm hand-off” if they must be referred
  • Arm county residents with the information they need to spot and avoid scams
  • Reduce myths and stigmas about scams and scam victims

“Seniors are a perennial target of scam artists and all too often lose their life savings and even their homes to fraud,” said Sue McConnell, President of the Greater Cleveland Better Business Bureau. “The information gathered and shared by the members of this task force, as well as fraud awareness education programs, will provide a valuable tool in the fight to protect seniors from being victimized. BBB is proud to be a partner in this effort.”

Other Scam Squad participants include the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services, Cleveland Department of Aging, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Cleveland Police Department, AARP, Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland, Benjamin Rose Institute, ESOP, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland Office of Fair Housing and Consumer Affairs.

Law enforcement and senior-focused organizations that would like to learn more about Scam Squad should contact the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.