SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois joins the entire Department of Justice in observing the 15th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Department echoes voices around the world condemning elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, including financial exploitation.
“It is a sad reality that senior citizens are at greater risk of becoming isolated and lonely, and the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated these situations to put the elderly at even greater risk for fraud schemes and scams,” said U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. “Criminals use these situations to prey upon those who are least able to fend off their attacks. They use ever more creative techniques to illegally profit and steal hard-earned money from unsuspecting individuals. We must do everything possible to protect our vulnerable population of seniors.”
The Central District of Illinois is participating in the department-wide Elder Justice Initiative, to prevent and prosecute fraud on America’s seniors. The office has organized a task force of law enforcement agencies and service organizations in Central Illinois to raise awareness and to prosecute those who carry out these fraud schemes. The office’s civil division has successfully recovered money in several cases, including recovering nearly $50,000 in funds sent by elderly individuals as part of a scheme where perpetrators convinced victims that a grandchild was in desperate need of money.
If victims or family members of victims immediately contact their local police department or county sheriff, typically within 24 to 48 hours of a fraudulent transfer of funds, it may be possible to halt the transfer of funds and prevent the loss of money.
The Department of Justice is also aggressively prosecuting fraudsters who are targeting seniors with offers of fake COVID-19 test kits and fake help to obtain stimulus and Paycheck Protection Program funds.
Earlier this year Attorney General William Barr launched a National Elder Fraud Hotline: 833-FRAUD-11. The hotline is staffed by experienced case managers who provide personalized support to callers to assist elders and caretakers who believe they have been a victim of fraud by reporting and providing appropriate services. If you know someone who you believe has been the victim of elder fraud or abuse please call the Elder Fraud Hotline or your local police department immediately.