May 3, 2002                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

State Auditor to hold Senior Fraud Summit May 8 Speakers will address pyramid schemes, weapons of fraud and enforcement

       State Auditor John Morrison, Montana AARP and the Montana Senior Citizens Association will host the Senior Fraud Summit May 8 in the Old Supreme Court Chamber at the Capitol in Helena. (Agenda attached.) More than 150 law enforcement officials, county attorneys and adult protective personnel from across Montana will attend.
      Morrison's office has intensified its investigative and prosecutorial efforts in the past year toward stamping out senior fraud. The office recently completed one of Montana's first successful cases involving the prosecution of criminal financial elder abuse, in which Morrison revoked the insurance producer license of Debbie A. Dobson of Billings. Her husband, Harold R. Dobson previously surrendered his license voluntarily.
      The State Auditor's Office investigates and assists in prosecuting many senior fraud cases including those involving pyramid schemes, the sale of viaticals, the diversion of client funds by an insurance agent for personal use, and unauthorized stock trades and actions in clients' accounts by a stockbroker.
      "The State Auditor's Office is committed to fighting fraud carried out against consumers, and particularly our senior citizens who are the most vulnerable and frequently are targeted by scam artists and a few bad actors in the industry," said Morrison, who serves as Montana's commissioner of insurance and securities.
      Highlights of the summit agenda include a speech on pyramid schemes by Dr. Jon Taylor, president of the national Consumer Awareness Institute, and a discussion on the "Weapons of Fraud" led by Al Ward of AARP. At lunch, Morrison will discuss the role of the State Auditor's Office as a criminal justice agency and will review a number of cases involving senior fraud. Attorney General Mike McGrath will follow with a presentation on identity theft.
      The summit, themed "Stamp Out Senior Fraud," is part of Morrison's effort to revive Montana's Senior Fraud Protection Network. The network, led by the State Auditor's Office, Montana AARP and the Montana Senior Citizens Association, uses a variety of tools to educate and help senior citizens. The State Auditor's Office has a Senior Fraud Protection Hotline (1-800-332-6148), which any person can use to report any instance of fraud. The office publishes a quarterly newsletter that currently is mailed to more than 1,500 senior citizens and organizations. State Auditor staff members routinely visit Montana communities to educate senior citizens about fraud.
      MEDIA NOTE: Members of the media are invited to attend part of, or the entire summit. If you would like to attend, or if you would like more information, please contact Wendy Raney at 444-2495.