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Staying at a rehabilitation center while he recovers from recent health issues, Earl Thorpe often takes CDTA STAR to visit his wife. It’s a service offered to people who cannot use regular public transportation.

In Thorpe’s case, his wheelchair can be limiting. But Thorpe says a recent experience with his driver left him fearing for his life.

Thorpe says the driver, claiming to be an FBI agent, demanded money and was driving erratically, circling the lot. Thorpe had nowhere to go.

“It could have really been a disaster that could have been found in some woods,” said Thorpe. “I can’t walk. I’m in a wheelchair. What was I going to do? I would have been a casualty.”

Eventually, the driver left him at the door and Thorpe contacted authorities, who confirmed they’re investigating.

In a statement, CDTA said the driver was employed through one of the contractors they work with and say he is no longer with the contracting company.

While police say what happened to Thorpe is unique, scams against seniors, unfortunately, are not. The Albany Police Department says it has seen a recent rise in phone scams where the caller says they are part of the department, looking for money for an incarcerated loved one.

“I do believe that the elderly folks are being targeted the most, and primarily just because it’s a scare tactic and it’s mostly a rushed decision where they get scared and they may not they may believe the caller in regards to their granddaughter or their grandson being arrested so they’re going to go out and get that money so they can help out their family,” said APD Officer Megan Craft. “A few tips that we urge anyone receiving any of these calls is if you don’t know a number that’s calling your phone, don’t answer it.

“We also urge people never to give personal information or financial information over the phone. Don’t make rush decisions you’re always able to hang up and call a family member and find out if they’ve been arrested.”

Thorpe says he’s grateful he knew enough not to believe the driver, but he’s worried about others who might not be able to see through the lies or their fear.

“People have been taking advantage of seniors for a long time,” said Thorpe. “It just went unnoticed.”

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