Teen educating seniors about cyber scams

Published 1:50 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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By Julia Burazer

Davie Respect Initiative

Consumers in North Carolina made more than 64,000 fraud reports that totaled slightly more than $93 million in losses in 2021, according to a report from the Federal Trade Commission.

The top category received was identity theft, followed by imposter scams and credit bureaus. Other reports involved online shopping, and banks and lenders, the FTC said.

The median loss was $446, the FTC said.

Meet Davie Respect Initiative’s newest Ambassador of Respect: Nick Ruff and his winning project, “Cyber Safe Seniors.”

“My neighbor was prey to a tech scam. He was told his computer had a virus and was compromised,” Nicks said. “He was to send $200 in Apple Gift cards in order to repair it.”

Luckily, the neighbor called Nick, who in turn called his father, Lt. Ruff at the Davie County Sheriff’s Department. Iit was a scam and Nick saved his neighbor from losing $200.

This incident and the increase in consumer fraud and scams motivated Nick to want to do something. He especially wanted to help older adults because it was “hard to see and hear how many people were being scammed and losing their hard-earned money.”

He got started by creating a database of common scams. Lt. Butero and Det. Gomez helped Nick accumulate this information and his mother, Christy Ruff, was his biggest cheerleader encouraging him to finish the project.

Nick plans to continue doing research and talking to experts to stay current.

Cyber Safe Seniors is a guide to help citizens become more prepared and informed about today’s cybercrimes. Bingo cards with prizes that Nick created makes learning fun.  He has already been part of a presentation at an independent senior living facility, and he plans to present at others as well as the Davie Senior Center.

“I want to be able to educate and show how to prevent them and if it has already occurred to report them. I would consider it a success to even save 1 person from losing their hard-earned money.”

Nick came to the DRI in person interview with an impressive PowerPoint and handouts for his presentation. All six panelists were most impressed with his creativity, implementation and originality.

The celebration for Nick was held at Mocksville Town Hall and Mayor Will Marklin and Town Manager Ken Gamble awarded Nick with his $1,000 check, a hand carved “Respect Matters” medallion and a certificate.

Nick recently graduated from Davie High and plans to attend UNC Charlotte to major in computer science and minor in cyber security.

Do you know a young person or Davie County youth group between the ages of 12-21 “doing good, being kind, or showing respect” to people, animals or the environment?

Empower our youth by anonymously nominating them at www.davierespect.com.  Up to three new Ambassadors of Respect may be selected by the volunteer selection panel each quarter.  The next quarter application due date is Sept. 30. Individual youths and DC youth groups can apply on their own or after having been nominated.

Email comments or questions to initiaterespect1@gmail.com.