OHIO VALLEY— Recognizing the need for consumer awareness in the Meigs community, Prosecuting Attorney Colleen Williams decided to take a proactive approach to the problem.
With the support of the Meigs County Sheriffs Office, Farmers Bank, Home National Bank, People’s Bank, Ohio Valley Bank and the Meigs County Chamber of Commerce, the prosecutor’s office will host a serious of presentations during the next few months for businesses, consumers and the elderly.
National Consumer Protection Week is March 6-12, and Williams said this is a good opportunity to raise awareness in the community.
Williams said her office has received an increase in reports of fraud and scam cases in recent months.
“The cases that have reached my office are heartbreaking,” Williams said. “I see small businesses, which make Meigs County unique, devastated by criminals. Contractor fraud is on the increase and our elderly have been constantly targeted by criminals to scam.”
She believes awareness, as well as education on how to combat this problem, are essential to stopping criminals before they have the opportunity to take money from unsuspecting consumers.
“Scams have become very sophisticated, and sometimes it can be difficult to know you’re being scammed. We want consumers to have information on who to contact with questions and to report potential crimes,” Williams said.
The first presentation will be Fraud and Scam Awareness Training on Thursday, March 3, from noon to 1:15 p.m. at Wolfe Mountain Entertainment. The public is invited to attend, but the focus will be on issues relevant to small businesses.
“This is an issue not just in Meigs County, this is a national issue,” Williams said. “Everyone is invited to attend, not just Meigs residents. We welcome anyone who would like to be informed or who has been a victim of fraud.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office is part of the nationwide effort to encourage consumers to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions. They are sending Melissa Smith, director of consumer education, as the keynote speaker for the first presentation.
Smith will be followed by Williams and representatives from each supporting agency, who will discuss the local impact on the community and inform the public about precautions and awareness that can be take to safeguard against future scams.
Bruce Wolfe and Dan Dunham offered Wolfe Mountain Entertainment as a venue for the presentation; WME was a recent victim of an elaborate scam in which criminals created an entire persona, including a fake business, to try and scam the business out of money, and will be on hand to share their story.
A second Fraud and Scam Awareness Training will be held at a later date and focus on elder fraud.
For more information on the Fraud and Scam Awareness Training, contact the Meigs County Prosecutors office at 740-992-6371 and visit www.ftc.gov for more details on NCPW.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.