The guest speaker was Tom Di Zinno from the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, who gave a presentation on money scams and how to avoid them.Tom is a native of Cleveland and attended John Carroll University and Cooper School of Art.

Pictured from left to right are: Becky Robbins (program committee member), Tom Di Zinno, President Ruth Lundin, and Sheriff Jim Quattrone. 

In the late 70s, Tom moved to California with his brother to escape the winters. He joined the San Diego Police Department in 1990 and worked patrol for 13 years, while also working at several high profile events including The Super Bowl and the Republican National Convention. In 2003 he joined the SDPD’s Economic Crimes Unit, working as a detective on commercial embezzlement and identity theft. In 2006, he joined the National City Police Department where for 15 years he worked economic crimes and homicides. In this capacity he worked with the Secret Service Fraud Task Force. He returned to winter by joining the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit in 2022, where he works with Tom Tarpley – also from California – on multiple cases of unsolved homicide, missing, and unidentified victim cases.

Tom’s presentation focused on his “10 Commandments to Prevent Becoming a Fraud Victim.” He offered statistical information, including Americans lost $10 billion to fraud in 2023, according to the FTC. He said nearly a third of all victims are hit more than once, and also said 25% of victims had a new account opened without knowing. He also said there are three levels of fraud criminals – local con artists, organized crime / computer hackers, and finally international consortiums / government cartels.

Tom then gave his “10 Commandments”, along with various examples and stories related to each one:

  1. Know the top 20 scams, including Targeted Spear Phishing, Scam Bank Alerts, Social Media Marketplace, and “Delayed Package” announcements, among many others.
  2. Know the scam key words, including Gift Cards, Crypto, Electronic Transfer, Personal Pay Apps, Use This Link, Download, and more.
  3. No one legit calls or emails for money/payments.
  4. Google is not your friend.
  5. Social media shopping is not policed.
  6. Debit cards should be used for ATMs only.
  7. The postal system is fraud’s low-hanging fruit.
  8. 30% of fraud happens because others don’t protect your info and get hacked.
  9. Put your wallet on a diet – don’t carry multiple credit cards or sensitive information like passwords.
  10. Always remember the Anti-Fraud Prevention Code – VPR – Verify who you are interacting with, Protect sensitive information like account numbers, and Respect your money.

In addition to his presentation, Tom provided a handout focusing on phishing scams.

Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone was also in attendance. He and Tom remained following the meeting to continue discussing the issue with our members.