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Fraud forewarning underwritten by sheriff’s office grant

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image A $1,300 check was presented to Sun City Center Security Patrol leaders last week through the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Community Enrichment Grants Program. Melody Jameson Photo

The $1,300 grant was awarded last week based on application by the Sun City Center Security Patrol.

By MELODY JAMESON

SUN CITY CENTER – In order to forearm residents here with forewarning knowledge, this community’s volunteer security organization has received a grant from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The $1,300 grant was awarded last week based on application by the Sun City Center Security Patrol for funds to underwrite preparation of an educational booklet informing retirees about the types and numbers of frauds focused on them by scam artists.

The check was presented patrol leaders Wednesday during the HSCO’s annual Community Enrichment Grants Program award ceremonies in Ybor City, according to Karen Ryan, president of the patrol’s board of directors. This is the second year the patrol has received funding through the program and the 2012 grant is the only one made to a South County organization, she added.

This year’s grant application, prepared by Ryan, sought a total of $1,500 to produce and deliver “an all-in-one resource” aimed at giving residents a ready reference covering the variety of scams, frauds and theft concepts that frequently are targeted at retirement community populations assumed to be easy prey. The application’s estimates put the composition, printing and binding costs at a minimum of $1,000, with the remainder earmarked for delivery methods.

Ryan’s project outline envisions collection of information on the subjects from a range of sources, including the sheriff’s office and its officers serving as the community’s resource deputies, state agencies which focus on elderly services and online websites dedicated to consumer protections.

Ryan, a long time patrol member who has served in several capacities, also noted in the proposal that “Sun City Center, due to its senior population, is a prime target for scams, thefts and assorted frauds.” Many times, she added, they are reported to the patrol, but only after an occurrence which has taken advantage of a resident. “The objective is going to be to reduce and prevent those occurrences by arming our residents with useful information,” she said.

The board chairman said this week the project will get underway immediately, beginning with organization of materials to be included in the booklet. No target date for completion has been established but a publication date this fall is anticipated, and in as many units as available monies will allow, she added.

Initially, the booklets are to be distributed through the security patrol offices on the North Pebble Beach Boulevard Central Campus and supplies maintained in the patrol’s vehicles which daily circulate through the community.

The long standing HCSO Community Enrichment Grants Program is supported by monies and resources seized as part of the law enforcement agency’s crime solving efforts, according to Amanda Pope, a member of the department staff administering the program. Funds available each year are commensurate with the recoveries.

This year, a total of 37 grant applications were received, seeking up to $1,500 for a variety of community projects, Pope said. A panel of 12 individuals selected 21 of them to receive grants in assorted amounts which were awarded last week.

Inquiries frequently begin in January of each year, she added, with the process concluding in the spring or early summer.

In 2011, the security patrol received $300 through the HCSO program which was applied to purchase of tires for patrol vehicles, Ryan said.

“And thanks to the sheriff’s office program,” she added, “this year we will be able to address another pressing need to enlighten our community about potential harm. If we can prevent one theft or scamming of a SCC resident, I will consider this grant a success.”

Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson

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