OWINGS MILLS, MD. (WJZ) — The state of Maryland, some non-profits and other organizations are uniting to combat financial fraud of senior citizens.

“Protect Week” 2019 launched Tuesday morning at a press conference at Atrium Village in Owings Mills.

“Every day, criminals are becoming more sophisticated in how they separate you from your money and that’s why we’re here today,” said Hank Greenberg, Maryland state director of the AARP. “It’s essential to prevent financial exploitation and that’s why this coalition is so important,”

It’s a statewide public education campaign. Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. spoke Tuesday morning on the problem.

“It’s becoming easier, it’s becoming more sophisticated for people to get access to bank accounts, credit cards- it’s critical to be mindful of the dangers out there and that’s why we’re here today,” Olszewski said. We see more and more reports coming into our police department, Baltimore County has a large aging population- so we want to make sure we’re working with our seniors and make sure they’re looking out for their loved ones,”

Several Atrium Village residents said they had been the victims of financial scammers, and were happy to attend Tuesday’s event.

“I think it’s wonderful because I have been scammed, I have spoken with the people at the bank and they have helped me get everything squared away. It will enlighten us more, they’re a lot of scams going around,” said Marvelyn Foster, an Atrium resident.

It’s estimated that one in five seniors over the age of 65 have been victims of fraud, losing a staggering $2.9 billion a year to identify thieves and con artists.

“Sadly, we see all too often that our senior citizens are targeted most often,” said Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer.

The “Protect Week” press conference coincides with a series of local events throughout Maryland designed to educate senior citizens about the dangers of financial fraud.

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