The Senior Exploitation Unit was created in 2003 to investigate physical, sexual and financial crimes committed against anyone who is sixty years of age or older. Examples of senior crimes include Identity Theft, Fiduciary Theft, Credit Card Theft or Misuse, Gypsy Scams and financial or physical abuse. This Unit was developed to combat the problem of rising crime against senior citizens in Delaware County. Pennsylvania has the second highest number of senior citizen residents in the country. Delaware County has the largest number of senior citizen residents when compared proportionally to other counties within the Commonwealth.
The mission of the Senior Exploitation Unit is twofold: (1) to investigate crimes against seniors; and (2) to educate the general population of Delaware County concerning the many crimes and illegal schemes perpetrated against the seniors of the county. Since its inception, the Senior Exploitation Unit has handled more than 400 cases and the total amount of thefts reported has exceeded $3,000,000.
The education segment of the mission raises awareness about the need to identify these crimes and the need to report the crimes to the proper authorities. In support of this mission, the Senior Exploitation Unit presents programs throughout Delaware County. As of December 2006, the Unit presented more than 100 programs on such topics as Crimes Against the Elderly, Don’t Allow Yourself To Be a Victim, Senior Personal Safety and other pertinent subjects explaining the increasing number of crimes committed against seniors and how seniors can protect themselves.
Statistics show that many seniors throughout the country do not report the fraudulent and illegal schemes committed against them because they are afraid the actors may return to victimize them again or that a family member may find out and may believe the victims are not able to properly handle their own affairs. It is very important to convince the senior victims of the need to report these crimes and to cooperate in the prosecution of individuals who prey on seniors. The Unit explains to seniors that if they become victims, the District Attorney’s Office will assist them and will work to preserve their dignity and rights.
The Senior Exploitation Unit works closely with other elder driven agencies, including the County Office of Services for the Aging (COSA), Senior Victim Services, The Legal Rights Agency of Southeastern PA and many other organizations both within and outside of Delaware County. The assistance of these agencies has allowed the Senior Exploitation Unit to increase the understanding and cooperation of the senior community of Delaware County. The Unit has made and will continue to make a positive impact in cutting the rate of crime and scams committed against our seniors.
Erica Parham, Assistant District Attorney, is chief of the unit. An Assistant District Attorney and two detectives also staff the Senior Exploitation Unit. To report a crime, ask a question or request a presentation, please call the Senior Exploitation Unit at 610-891-5249 or email the Unit at [email protected]