Dozens learn about fraud, ID theft at SAIL Center presentation

From left in center, James Roberson, who organized the summit, poses with Charlotte Purvis and Mayor Jim Staff, as well as the event’s other speakers.

News Staff Writer

More than 100 people, most of them senior citizens, learned how to avoid having their identities or their finances stolen by scammers, as well as some of the tricks the fraudsters, most of whom operate by phone, use to separate an individual from his or her money or personal information.
The Fraud Summit, held May 29 at Atmore’s SAIL Center, featured representatives of The Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Alabama Securities Commission (ASC), AARP-Alabama (AARP) and The Better Business Bureau (BBB). State Rep. Alan Baker also spoke briefly.
The special presentation drew an audience roughly twice the size of the SAIL Center’s membership roll.
“We had 100-plus people here, and we only have 48 regular members,” said SAIL Center Director Charlotte Purvis, who said organizers told her the crowd was the largest they have drawn to date in their “tour” of senior centers across the state. “It was to alert seniors about what happens when dealing with a scammer. They learned about everything from scam phone calls, where somebody wants you to send money, to Medicare fraud.
“They learned what to do when they’re dealing with somebody they don’t know, and what not to do when they’re dealing with somebody they don’t know.”
The primary speaker was James Roberson, who is regional coordinator for South Alabama Regional Planning Commission and AAA. Roberson, the main organizer of the event, talked about Medicare scams, a growing concern among elderly citizens.
Other speakers included Monde Donaldson, vice-president of Better Business Bureau of Central and South Alabama, who listed the top scams of 2023 and how an individual could protect themselves; Mikela McCurry, education and public affairs manager for ASC, who talked about investment fraud, cryptocurrency and pig butchering, a long-term investment scam.
Dorothy Dorton, associate state director of AARP’s Outreach for Lower Alabama, informed the crowd about government imposters, veteran scams, online romance scams and identity theft.
“It was very productive and beneficial,” David Smith said. “Each agency was well-represented.”
It wasn’t just the senior citizens who benefited from the anti-fraud presentation, though.
“It was very informative, and (the speakers) represented themselves very well,” SAIL Center employee Shirley Felder said. “There were a lot of questions asked, and everybody learned some things.”
Mayor Jim Staff, himself an octogenarian, pointed out the main reason the elderly are more likely to fall victim to scams and fraud.
“Older people are more trusting,” he said. “This program was very educational. All the speakers and everybody at the SAIL Center did a fantastic job.”
For more information on scams, especially those that target the elderly, visit