PORTLAND, Maine: Acting U.S. Attorney Donald E. Clark today joined the entire Department of Justice in observing the 16th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Justice Department echoes voices around the world condemning elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
“As some of the most vulnerable among us, senior citizens are unfortunately a prime target for criminals,” Clark said. “Annually, at least 10 percent of older Americans are victims of some form of elder abuse, including abuse and neglect, marketing scams, investment rip-offs and imposter schemes. My office and the Department of Justice are committed to stopping those who prey on this vulnerable community.”
As the world takes this day to remember the elderly during these uncertain times, the Department of Justice remains committed, through its department-wide Elder Justice Initiative, to prevent and prosecute fraud on America’s seniors. Last year, the Department declared “Prevention and Disruption of Transnational Elder Fraud” to be an Agency Priority Goal, making it one of the Department’s four top priorities.
Major strides have already been made to that end:
- National Elder Fraud Hotline: In 2020, the Department launched a National Elder Fraud Hotline, 833-FRAUD-11. Staffed by experienced case managers who provide personalized support to callers, the hotline serves to assist elders and caretakers who believe they have been a victim of fraud by reporting and providing appropriate services.
- Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force: Established in June 2019 to combat foreign elder fraud schemes, the Strike Force is composed of the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and six U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with FBI special agents, Postal Inspectors, and numerous other law enforcement personnel.
- Annual Elder Justice Sweep: In March 2020, the Attorney General announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in the Department’s history. The Department, together with every U.S. Attorney’s office, charged more than 400 defendants, causing over $1 billion in loss through fraud schemes that largely affected seniors.
- Holding foreign-based perpetrators accountable: Transnational criminal organizations are targeting our elder population in schemes including mass mailing fraud, grandparent scams, romance scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams, IRS and Social Security Administration imposter scams, and technical-support scams.
- Money Mule Initiative: Since October 2018, the Department and its law enforcement partners began a concentrated effort across the country and around the world to disrupt, investigate, and prosecute money mule activity used to facilitate fraud schemes, especially those victimizing senior citizens.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder fraud, please report it to the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11. Reporting can help authorities try to stop those who commit fraud and also help prevent others from becoming victims.