CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general are urging the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to include help for those victimized by elder scams and exploitation in COVID-19 relief legislation.
The bipartisan legislation, known as Edith’s Bill, would amend the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to include victims of senior fraud. Doing so could make seniors victimized by scams and exploitation eligible for reimbursement by the Crime Victims Fund.
“Scam artists know that seniors are especially at risk from COVID-19 and are exploiting the anxiety around this pandemic,” Attorney General Morrisey joined in writing. “Older adults have contributed so much to our nation, and it is simply wrong that many are losing life savings to criminals. Tragically, it is rare for seniors to receive compensation even after fraudsters are caught and convicted.”
The bill is named for a woman who was scammed out of $80,000 by her longtime financial adviser. Her namesake legislation comes amid a surge in COVID-19 scams targeting vulnerable seniors nationwide, including one such ploy that offers tests in exchange for Medicare information.
National research estimates 10 percent of persons age 60 and older have experienced some form of abuse or exploitation. The conduct goes unreported in many instances, and that’s of particular concern in West Virginia where it is estimated nearly 20 percent of the state’s population is 65 years and older.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s elder abuse litigation and prevention unit includes a dedicated team of seasoned civil prosecutors to hold accountable anyone who intentionally causes harm to senior citizens.
Assistant attorneys general, both assigned to consumer protection and to represent other state agencies, work with those client agencies and county prosecutors to refer matters as appropriate, including instances of criminal conduct, guardianship and conservatorship, as well as acts involving nursing homes and hospitals.
Senior citizens and their loved ones who need assistance can call the Attorney General’s senior services and elder abuse hotline at 304-558-1155 or HelpForSeniors@wvago.gov. Those who prefer traditional mail can reach the elder abuse litigation and prevention unit at P.O. Box 1789, Charleston, WV 25326.
West Virginia joined the Louisiana- and Wisconsin-led letter with attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Read a copy of the letter at https://bit.ly/3kHrkSh.
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