Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber crime expert to shed light on scams targeting seniors

Date: March 04, 2008
By: Harry Hitzeman

here are seven words that absolutely break Hale Guyer's heart: "I can't believe my money is gone."

Guyer, a cyber-crime expert and retired law enforcement officer, is coming to Elgin Thursday to help show senior citizens how some high-tech scams work and how they can protect themselves from them.

Co-sponsored by Elgin police and the Elgin Township Triad, Guyer's two-hour presentation will start at 10 a.m. in the ballroom at the Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way.

Guyer has addressed people across the United States and United Kingdom and frequently is called upon to train law enforcement officers.

He said he will demonstrate how cyber thieves and scammers can extract data from debit cards and credit cards, gain information from public computers and show how easy it is for crooks to alter the incoming phone number that appears on your caller ID.

He said the caller ID demonstration raises the most eyebrows.

Guyer said he hopes to increase awareness among people, prompt them to use common sense and take precautions.

He said that 10 years ago, thieves didn't specifically target seniors online, but as seniors have embraced technology more to view photos and video of their grandchildren, they have become more vulnerable.

"Once you see it happening, they're going to walk out (of the seminar) understanding how the bad guys work. The upside is they'll want to protect themselves," he said.

Cherie Aschenbrenner, the Elgin police department's crime prevention specialist and elderly service officer, saw Guyer's presentation last fall and invited him here.

Aschenbrenner said Guyer's presentation offers plenty of hands-on demonstrations.

"He brings a card reader (called a skimmer) and actually has the audience members bring up their credit cards and grocery cards in their wallets and he checks what is on the magnetic strip," she said. "He does a phenomenal presentation geared toward senior citizens."

Belinda Lilluan, Elgin Township case worker, said about 150 people have signed up so far, and there's room to fit 200 comfortably.

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