Silver-haired seniors are taking a bite out of crime with a vigilant volunteer group that ferrets out fraud against the elderly.
In addition to conducting sting operations that target sleazy business practices, the Senior Sleuths run a network of 12 coordinators around the state of Florida, with volunteers who give free lectures on consumer fraud and abuse of the elderly.
"We're watching out for the bad guys," says Shelley Feldman, who runs the 500-member organization that's already generated dozens of court cases and about $5 million in consumer refunds.
"We are a thousand eyes and ears- not too much should get past us."
Once, the Sleuths zeroed in on the tire industry and forced one giant retailer to pay $1 million to settle state charges that it overcharged and used misleading billing practices. Another company was accused of collecting double the amount of state sales tax.
Another time, the group took on mail fraud and uncovered a host of shady dealings.
Fake sweepstakes told consumers they'd "just won" and could collect their jackpots by paying a small fee, while letters asking for donations never quite made it to the so-called charity they claimed to represent.
The oldsters' diligent work sparked 110 state consumer investigations that resulted in companies being warned to clean up their act of told to close up shop.
"We are just trying to keep seniors from getting scammed," explains Sleuth Tom Hussey, a 61-year-old retired plumber from Deerfield Beach, Fla. "We have to make seniors aware of what's going on out there.
"People are trying to take them- take their money."
On the case are Senior Sleuths (from left): Marilyn Posner, Gloria Frishman, Shelley Feldman, his wife Carole with their dog Foxy, O.D. Williams and Tom Hussey