IJA, AARP cohost ‘Preventing fraud and scams targeted at Indigenous communities’ webinar Nov. 6

AARP to discuss recent research, level of crisis in communities and opportunities for journalists to reframe reporting on victims

The Indigenous Journalists Association (IJA) and AARP will co-host “Preventing fraud and scams targeted at in Indigenous communities” webinar via Zoom on Monday, Nov. 6 from 12-1 p.m. CT. 

Kathy Stokes, AARP Director of Fraud Prevention Programs and Mashell Sourjohn (Muscogee), AARP Associate State Director of Community Outreach for Oklahoma will be panelists for the discussion. IJA board member and Arizona Mirror Indigenous Communities Reporter Shondiin Silversmith (Diné) will moderate the discussion and Q&A. 

Scams and fraud are a major problem in the U.S. New AARP-sponsored research illuminates the vulnerability of Indigenous American (IA) communities to fraudulent activities, pointing toward means of addressing the issue. This crisis is especially fraught within IA communities and emphasizes the need for us all to work together to reframe how we talk about and respond to fraud victimization.

Through a series of focus groups and in-depth interviews, the researchers found that American Indian and Alaska Native communities report having had experiences with a wide range of financial scams, both targeted and not targeted to their communities, with their older adults being particularly vulnerable. The research offered valuable insights for empowering American Indian and Alaska Native communities to recognize and prevent fraud within their communities.

Presenters will examine the problem in further detail, including in depth insights on the issue and tips for how to report on it. 

Attendees can register for the webinar here. After registering, attendees will receive a confirmation email with information about how to join. 


Kathy Stokes is a nationally recognized leader in the consumer fraud arena. Stokes leads AARP’s social mission work to educate older adults on the risks that fraud represents to their financial security. Since 2019, she and her team have vastly expanded AARP’s leadership in this space, including the creation of a new victim support program, a multi-year campaign to end the use of gift cards in fraud, and the formation of a national effort to fundamentally transform how our country addresses consumer fraud. Kathy currently serves on the advisory council to the Board of the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators and on the advisory council to the Senior Issues and Diminished Capacity Committee of the North American Securities Administrators Association.

Mashell Sourjohn (Muscogee) currently serves as AARP’s Senior Associate State Director of Community Outreach Director of Oklahoma where her focus is enhancing the quality of life for all Oklahomans as we age in areas of Native American outreach, caregiving, hunger, livable communities, financial asset protection, digital equity, and voter engagement.

She is a current board member of the Central Oklahoma American Indian Health Council, Inc., a member of the International Association of Indigenous Aging’s Native American Elder Justice Initiative (NAEJI) Advisory Committee, and member of the Indigenous Journalist Association. Mashell previously served on the Pottawatomie County Community Market Food Resource Center Board.  She has formerly served on the national American Diabetes Association’s Awakening the Spirit Native American Committee, the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women committee, and the New Mexico Shared Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of Chronic Disease 2012-2016. 

She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Leadership and holds a Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law from the University of Tulsa College of Law. She holds a Diversity and Inclusion for Human Resources Management Certificate from Cornell University and is Certified Aging in Place Specialist accredited by the National Home Builders Association. Mashell is a graduate of the 2019 American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma’s Leadership Native Oklahoma and is an alumna of the Oklahoma Public Health Leadership Institute. 

Mashell is a proud citizen of the Muscogee Nation and is of Cherokee Nation heritage. With a matching employee giving program from AARP, Mashell proudly established the Kenneth Sourjohn, Sr. Memorial Scholarship fund via the Muscogee Creek Nation Scholarship Foundation to assist any citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation in their own purpose driven journey and higher education attainment goals.

Shondiin Silversmith (Dinė) is an award-winning Native journalist and Indigenous communities reporter for the Arizona Mirror based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona’s 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX’s “The World.” Silversmith earned her master’s degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Indigenous Journalists Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.

IJA recognizes that media professionals are confronted with unique challenges when covering issues affecting Indigenous people and communities. The IJA “Covering Turtle Island” series aims to examine the challenges and best practices for reporting these stories. 

The “Covering Turtle Island” series is supported by the following organizations:

  • Democracy Fund
  • Google News Initiative
  • Ford Foundation
  • The Commonwealth Fund
  • The MacArthur Foundation
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • The Society of Professional Journalists Foundation

An on-demand recording will be available via the IJA website and YouTube channel

About IJA
IJA recognizes Indigenous peoples as distinct groups based on tradition and culture. In this spirit, IJA educates and unifies its membership through journalism programs that promote diversity and defends challenges to free press, speech, and expression. IJA is committed to increasing the representation of Indigenous journalists and encourages mainstream and Indigenous media to attain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and responsibility.

The Indigenous Journalist Association Empowers Indigenous Voices in Journalism.
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