KENNEBUNK (WGME) – This week the Senate Aging Committee, led by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, will hold a hearing about combating financial exploitation of elders.
Candice Simeoni is passionate about protecting Maine’s oldest citizens.
“Was raised to respect my elders and it’s just something that’s ingrained in me,” Simeoni said. “I investigate elder exploitation cases.”
Simeoni is a part-time patrol officer at the Kennebunk Police Department and also heads the York County Elder Abuse Task Force, which she founded.
“We have 20 percent of our population over the age of 65 years of age, so it’s a focus we all have to really embrace and work together towards,” she said.
Simeoni said one of her greatest mentors is Sen. Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee. She said Collins invited her to testify at a hearing this week to examine the progress law enforcement has made in the fight against elder fraud, and how local, state and federal authorities can coperate even better.
The majority of elder abuse crimes — 90 percent — occur at the hands of their loved ones. There also are a number of well-known scams targeting older Americans.
A report from the committee set to be released this week identifies the most common scams. The Top 5 in Maine are IRS impersonation, unsolicited phone calls, computer tech support, Social Security impersonation and the grandparent scam.
The chances of recovery financially are very slim and the targeted elders’ dignity is affected for the rest of their lives, Simeoni said.
Simeoni said that is why it is so important to be proactive through education and awareness — an approach she will share with members of congress.
And while Simeoni said she does not love the love the spotlight, she is more than willing to speak for the most vulnerable.
“I’m thrilled. I’ve never been to Washington, D.C. before. I’m kinda like the country bumpkin from Maine,” she said.
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.