Cobb retirees fight fraud with 75 years of law enforcement experience

East Cobb’s Gavalis and Marietta’s Flynn volunteer for the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation

East Cobb’s Joe Gavalis, 77, and Marietta’s Dan Flynn, 72, are retired, but they’re far from idle. Together, the two former law enforcement officers have more than 75 years of experience on the job — experience now put to use battling elder abuse.

Gavalis and Flynn volunteer for the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation, a nonprofit organization of both active and retired investigators, prosecutors and social service workers, AARP reported. Its mission is to “protect Georgia’s senior citizens from elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”

It’s through the foundation the two retirees facilitated more than 60 training sessions on abuse for local law enforcement. They even take calls from active officers who need guidance on a case.

Meeting with state leaders on senior care challenges facing Georgia’s aging population. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15! 💜

Posted by North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation on Tuesday, April 16, 2024

“Most police officers in the state do not have the training that (it) requires to investigate financial crimes,” Flynn told AARP. Flynn’s career spanned 48 years, including police chief positions in Marietta and Savannah.

“It feels wonderful,” he said, speaking on the ability to assist on elder fraud cases.

Flynn and Gavalis work with the Georgia attorney general’s office distributing consumer guides to educate older adults on how to combat fraud and abuse. They also speak at senior centers, assisted living facilities and community groups. It’s an effort Flynn estimated has reached up to 8,000 people.

“We bring credibility because of our backgrounds,” Gavalis, who retired from the U.S. Department of Labor as an organized crime investigator in 1998, told AARP. After a career investigating racketeering, the retiree began a forensic accounting business. While working in California, Gavalis discovered an anti-elder abuse task force that inspired him to put his skills to work in Georgia.

North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation, Inc. PMB 248 1000 Whitlock Ave. STE 320 Marietta, Georgia 30064

Posted by North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Foundation on Thursday, April 11, 2024

“All of us are susceptible to fraud,” Kathy Stokes, director of AARP fraud prevention programs, told AARP. “It’s just when the older person is the victim, they lose so much more money, and so it can be catastrophic.”