Pact signed to help protect seniors


As a former member of the citys senior commission, Eileen Longstreet has witnessed seniors falling victim to telephone scams and fraudulent sweepstakes and decided to do something about it. She attended a forum in a neighboring jurisdiction for a program called Triad, aimed at reducing crime against the elderly, and then contacted officials and coordinated an Alexandria chapter.

There were seniors being bilked out of their money, some of them were getting threatening phone calls, she said. Its a problem everywhere.

Recently, Triad officials and the SALT council, which stands for seniors and law enforcement together, launched the Alexandria Triad in a signing ceremony on Oct. 5, making the group official and qualifying it for grant money from the states attorney general office. The agreement was signed by Robert F. McDonnell, the Virginia attorney general, Alexandria sheriff Dana Lawhorne, Alexandria Police Deputy Chief Blaine Corle and state delegate David Englin (D-45th) at a ceremony in the St. Martin De Porres Senior Center in Alexandria.

So much crime thats committed against seniors is preventable, said McDonnell.

This partnership will go a long way [to help prevent it], added Lawhorne.

Triad is an awareness tool to empower seniors to fight against these scams by communicating with officials and working together. Longstreet recommends that seniors be careful when mailing information, or putting information on checks, such as social security numbers like some she has seen. Seniors might overlook something like that because its been on there for 40 years, she said.

The signing creates an official Triad entity that acts as a resource for seniors who have encountered questionable situations somewhere along the way. After retirement, there is a nest egg of retirement money, and thats the target of these scam artists. The bad guys sense theres money there, said Mike Wenk, the chairman of Alexandria Triad.

Lannie Thomas was on hand for the signing, and has experienced the phone calls, mostly from mortgage companies. They hit me up for anything, I wont talk with them, she said.

Triad was launched in 1988 when the American Association of Retired Persons, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs Association agreed to partner to help ensure senior safety. This created a triad of efforts. The following year, first Triad was signed in St. Martin Parish in Louisiana. Now it is in 47 states, including 223 cities, counties and towns in Virginia.