Attorney General Bill Sorrell went to the Price Chopper in St. Johnsbury to hand out what he is calling his Pure Vermont Award.
"It is to recognize Vermonters who do their job as good neighbors to protect their neighbors," said Sorrell, D-Vt. Attorney General.
The event was staged to bring attention to scams on seniors. Dorothy Stowe almost lost $1,000 when she went to this Western Union station. She was about to wire the cash to her granddaughter in Canada, who Stowe thought was in trouble. It was a telephone scam.
"The telephone rang and I answered it. Someone said 'Grandma?' And I said, 'Is this Anna?' She said, 'Yes,'" Stowe said.
It was all made up to get money. The cash never got to the scam artists thanks to Price Chopper employee Carol Goehring who stepped in. This kind of scam was not a first for this store.
"Not just myself and I have other clerks; they have all seen the same situation. It is in Northern Vermont," Goehring said.
Sorrell says his leadership as attorney general secured an extra $100,000 from the Legislature to combat the scams and boost the state's consumer affairs division.
"What this is all about is education and prevention is the key," Sorrell said.
Sorrell is facing his first strong challenger, not from a different political party, but from within the Democratic Party-- Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan.
"Vermont is growing older by the day. We have the seventh highest senior population in the country and I think it's imperative for the attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of this state, to lead on this issue and to protect senior citizens of this state," Donovan said.
Donovan is also seeking votes from seniors and their families. He wants to establish a special unit to investigate and prosecute those engaged in abusing or neglecting vulnerable adults. His office would educate the public to be on the lookout for financial and physical abuse of seniors.
"We got to get out of our silos in this state. We got to work together. Times have changed. Times are different. We have to work together. We have to bring about best practices. We have to use all our resources to help Vermonters protect themselves," Donovan said.
Campaign messages from two candidates who are busy seeking votes from seniors as the August primary approaches.
If you've been targeted by a scam artist call the Consumer Assistance Program toll-free at 1-800-649-2424.
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