SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has honored Mike Smith, Vermont state president of FairPoint Communications, with the Attorney General's Pure Vermont award for Smith's "significant efforts to educate Vermonters about telephone scams and to protect them from wire-transfer fraud."
The Attorney General's Pure Vermont Awards Program recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that exemplify the best Vermont traditions of caring for its communities, helping neighbors, and fair dealing in the marketplace.
It is only the second time the Attorney General has presented the Pure Vermont award.
"Mike Smith saw that these scams were hurting Vermonters, particularly seniors, and stepped up to work towards solving the problem," said Attorney General Sorrell. "He brought law enforcement and advocacy agencies together and these efforts have led to greater awareness and to prevention. On behalf of my office, Vermont seniors and other affected consumers, I extend my thanks for his significant efforts."
For the past few years, Smith has partnered with law enforcement and advocacy organizations in Vermont and New England to raise awareness about telephone scams originating from the Jamaican "876" area code. These calls frequently target seniors, promising free lottery or sweepstakes winnings after the payment of a fee. The consumer is then directed to send the fee via a wire transfer.
In November, Smith traveled to Jamaica and met with Jamaican authorities to request greater enforcement efforts. He also visited Washington to press for improved resources and legislation to address the problem at the federal level. To provide consumers with a central location to learn about the issue, FairPoint established a website: Beware: Scams from Area Code 876.
"I am so honored and privileged to receive this award," said Smith.
"I want to thank the attorney general for this honor and for his laser focus and efforts in protecting our seniors," Smith said.
"The Vermont AG's office is, without a doubt, a national leader in this effort and instrumental to our outreach program to let seniors know about scams. In addition, the outreach program would not be successful without the assistance of local law enforcement, seniors groups, particularly the AARP, and the FairPoint employees who have dedicated themselves to stopping this scam.
"Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Nelson of Florida and Representative Peter Welch of Vermont all need to be applauded for their efforts in making sure Congress knows about this problem. And in Jamaica, U.S. Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, and Oliver Clarke, chairman of the Jamaican National Building Society, need to be singled out for their efforts in raising this issue with the Jamaican government.
"Kim Nichols, of Maine, is a true victims' advocate and her efforts to represent victims is truly inspiring. Lastly, Major Bill King of the York County Sheriff's Department in Maine deserves special recognition for his efforts. With the help of the Vermont AG's office and all of these other people and organizations we were able to bring this to the attention of the national media and ABC, CBS, and NBC ran stories on either their nightly or morning newscasts. Dan Rather Reports ran an hour-long special. Together, with the Vermont attorney general, we have made a difference in protecting our seniors."