Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Aug 09, 2019
August 15, 2019: Lana Burchett, “Classification”, Linda Bathe, will introduce, and Wendy Wilkinson will thank our speaker.

Head Table:  Our President Brent Shackleton, invites Linda Bathe, Paul Roulston, Dan Scarborough, Rob Russell, George Schroeder, Dave Scott and Jim Scott, to join him at the head table.

Today at Rotary: Sadly, sales scams and frauds perpetrated by unsavory conmen are becoming more and more prevalent, and the Stratford Beacon Herald often chronicles the latest scam to emerge and the tale of those who were duped into it.  Constable Darren Fisher of the Stratford Police spoke to Rotarians about some of the clues that a sales proposal may be a scam and how to protect not only oneself but those who are vulnerable in our community – newcomers, the elderly, those who live alone.
 
 
Speaker Darren Fischer speaking on Frauds and Scams, Stratford Police Dept. Introduced by Jim Young.
 
As a general rule, said Cst. Fisher, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”.  He stressed that scams are everywhere and that they can begin as small, seemingly innocuous, propositions which then escalate into something which can be financially devastating.  And the targets are usually the elderly who perhaps because for generational reasons may be more trusting – coming from a time when a handshake meant trust and a commitment.    Several club members told quite horrific stories of instances here in Stratford when people were scammed into shelling out thousands of dollars – re-paving of a driveway that resulted in $18,000 paid out with no contract or receipts for no, or little work.  Or the telephone calls threatening people with imminent arrest, or a CRA audit, if they do not pay up immediately. 
 
Cst. Fisher identified as among the most pernicious of scams – the “romance” scam.  Often it seeks via the internet those who are lonely or uncertain and by exploiting their vulnerability to extract tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The money is often wired to offshore accounts in the expectation of love, marriage, and a happy future, and the extortion of monies in these scams sometimes last years before the duped person is persuaded to stop.  Indeed, what is most depressing is the numbers of these dupes who go on believing in the promises that have been given even though they face a financial abyss.
 
Scams will not stop, so individuals and communities must be more vigilant.  Cst. Fisher stressed that common sense is often the best guide for people who are concerned about being scammed.  That and taking time before making a decision, doing research, talking to others about a proposal and not handing over any monies without a contract and receipts.  He encouraged people who are approached to ask for ID and written proposals; and to remember that government agencies like CRA, banks and reputable businesses would never asked to be paid out in the form of gift cards.  He also stressed that people should be careful about the personal information that they provide on social media sites; and be wary of “phishing” emails that look legitimate but are really lures.
 
Communities rely on trust, good will, common goals and a belief in the future.  Scammers threaten that – the police and other agencies are there to help us to thwart them.  Cst. Fisher’s comments and advice are timely and should be heeded. As Rotarians, we encourage the good in ourselves and in others to make a better world – and part of that is supporting those who have innocently fallen prey to scammers, schemers, and frauds.
 
 
Your ardently good and trusting Scribbler,
 
Scribe: Guy Chadsey
 
Guests:  Today we welcomed Lucas Carvalho, Brazil   New Generations Exchange.
 
Draw: The prize today donated by Ollie Henry, Gift Cert - The Butcher and the Baker and won by Jim Snider.
 
Make-ups: No report. 
 
August’s Attendance Committee: Mike Gruszczynski (I/C), Jim Hayes, Steve Monteith, Josef Frank, David Braye, Paul Roulston, Bob Gulliford, Norm Bird, Bryan Lapier.