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Press Release

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
Information and vigilance remain key elements to preventing elder abuse

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, joined national, state, local, and Tribal leaders today in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Since 2006, WEAAD has been commemorated to promote awareness and increases understanding of the many forms of elder abuse as well as the resources available to those at risk.

Highlighting the partnership between law enforcement and the public, U.S. Attorney Aber emphasized the importance of awareness and education.

“We know the devastating effects of elder abuse on individuals and families,” said U.S. Attorney Aber. “The best tools we have to protect ourselves and those we care for are awareness and information. We must understand not just the evolving tactics used to do harm, but also the resources available to those at risk. The Justice Department remains committed both to prosecuting offenders and to providing the programs and assistance people need to defend against and recover from abuse.”

Elder abuse is an act that knowingly, intentionally, or negligently causes or creates a serious risk of harm to an older person by a family member, caregiver, or other person in a trust relationship. Such harm may be financial, physical, sexual, or psychological. According to a new report from the FBI, scams targeting individuals aged 60 and older caused over $3.4 billion in losses in 2023—an 11% increase over 2022. The Justice Department maintains a variety of programs and initiatives to combat elder abuse.

The Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force marshals federal and state agencies working collaboratively to investigate and prosecute foreign-based schemes that target older Americans. In addition to aggressively investigating the individuals, organizations, and networks responsible for these crimes, this initiative provides the public with information to guard against both traditional scams, like tech support fraud, as well as trending schemes, such as romance scams.

Using one scam to perpetrate or conceal another, some fraudsters rely on money mules to move the proceeds of their illegal activity. Preying on the good will or financial vulnerability of their targets, scammers recruit people, many times older victims, to participate in schemes to move money in ways that avoid notice. The Money Mule Initiative identifies and addresses money mule activity to disrupt these fraud schemes, and helps people to recognize and avoid participation in perpetuating fraud.

To help older individuals and their families identify and avoid fraudulent activity, the Justice Department provides Senior Scam Alerts with information about the tactics used in specific schemes. For example, in Social Security Administration Impostor schemes, scammers impersonate government administrators and falsely report suspicious activity to request that the victims provide their Social Security number for confirmation. In Tech Support scams, fraudsters contact victims, sometimes through internet pop-up messages, to warn about non-existent computer problems, ask that the victim give them remote access to their computer, and identify a non-existent problem, then demand large sums of money for unnecessary services. In Lottery scams, telemarketers falsely notify victims that they have won a sweepstakes and tell them they must first pay fees for shipping, insurance, customs duties, or taxes before they can claim their prizes.

To learn more about the department’s elder justice efforts please visit the Elder Justice Initiative page.

The Eastern District of Virginia continues to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes.

For example, Howard Lee Stith pleaded guilty to defrauding elderly homeowners in the Richmond Metro area by appearing at their homes and claiming that their slate roofs needed extensive repairs, but ultimately performed minimal work and charged exorbitant fees. On May 14, 2024, Stith was sentenced to seven years in prison. On May 15, 2024, Sunyu Qian pleaded guilty to conning elderly victims into purchasing gift cards that he used to acquire high-value items. Qian used approximately $1.1 million through unauthorized access. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8.

To report elder fraud, contact the dedicated National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 or 1-833-372-8311 and visit the FBI’s IC3 Elder Fraud Complaint Center at 


Press Officer

Updated June 14, 2024

Elder Justice