Skip to main content

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Regarding Elder Fraud Law Enforcement Announcement


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you all for being here.

We are here to talk about some successes of the Department and our state and local partners in our expanding offensive against those who use fraudulent schemes to prey upon our senior citizens.

I want to thank Associate Deputy Attorney General Toni Bacon, who is the Department’s coordinator for elder justice; Deputy FBI Director David Bowdich, Secret Service Director Tex Alles, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale, HSI Executive Associate Director Derek Benner, Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska, and all of our state law enforcement partners who are here today.

We are especially honored to have with us Judge William Webster and his wife Lynda.  Judge Webster has had a storied career in public service, having served not only as a federal district judge and a circuit judge, but also as the only American to have ever led both the CIA and the FBI.    

Bill and Lynda have been friends for decades. Judge Webster served as Director of the CIA during my previous tenure at the Department. I also want to wish Judge Webster a happy 95th birthday, which took place yesterday.

In a few minutes, Bill and Lynda will tell us about the attempts that were made to defraud them by a scammer overseas—and how, by working with law enforcement, they helped put him behind bars.  Bill, Lynda and I just met with local law enforcement officers who are on the front lines and dealing with this problem.  Our discussion drove home how devastating fraud against the elderly can be.

Unfortunately, I have had my own experience with this crime—not as a victim but as a lure. Two years ago, my name and my image were used without my consent by fraudsters as part of a scheme that claimed I could help people receive government grant funding if only they would wire money to the fraudsters. I got it taken down, but it would go back up. I would get calls from senior citizens; some were desperately hoping that this was not a scam; others realized that they had lost thousands of dollars or even their life savings.

Fraud against the elderly is a massive problem, and one that is often perpetrated by transnational criminal organizations.  And due to the victims’ stage in life, the cost is especially high and the losses frequently catastrophic and irreversible.

We have to prosecute an all-out attack on these despicable crimes.

Last year, the Department conducted a record-breaking sweep of fraudsters who targeted the elderly.  In a few minutes, Toni will announce the results of this year’s sweep. Everyone standing behind me—and all U.S. Attorney’s offices participated in some way, as did the thousands of law enforcement officers they represent. They should take great pride in those results.

I applaud Attorney General Sessions for making this a priority. As long as I am Attorney General, it will remain a priority.  In fact, I would like to step up our efforts in the future.

Later today I will convene a meeting with leaders from the telecommunications technology industry, including representatives from Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, and Google. I am hopeful that that meeting will help us to work together to protect innocent people from fraud.

And now I’d like to welcome to the podium Judge and Mrs. William Webster.

Updated March 7, 2019