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Press Release

Idaho U.S. Attorney’s Office Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho
Information and Vigilance Remain Key Elements to Preventing Elder Abuse

BOISE – Josh Hurwit, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho, 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 increased understanding of the many forms of elder abuse affecting Americans, as well as the resources available to those at risk.

In a new PSA released today, U.S. Attorney Hurwit highlighted the partnership between law enforcement and the public and emphasized the importance of reporting fraud and abuse affecting older Idahoans.

“My office and the entire Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting those who abuse the elderly, including by financial exploitation, but we need help from our community,” said U.S. Attorney Hurwit.  “Check-in on older adults who may be vulnerable and look for unusual financial transactions – unexplained withdrawals, purchases of gold bars or cryptocurrency, or uncharacteristic efforts to wire large amounts of money.  We want to draw attention to these types of cases, as they can create devastating loss for our older population.”

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.  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 online fraud like tech support scams and romance scams.

Using one fraud 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, these criminals recruit people, many times older victims, to participate in schemes to move money in ways that are less likely to be notices.  The Money Mule Initiative identifies and addresses money mule activity to disrupt these fraud schemes, and helps people to recognize and avoid participating in and perpetuating such 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 reporting 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; and 
  • 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 District of Idaho continues to work with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes.

In August, a Boise couple is scheduled to be sentenced for wire fraud and obstruction of justice relating to defrauding an elderly victim, who was a retired school teacher, out of her home.  James and Jessica Dougherty both face up to 20 years in federal prison. 

According to court records, James Dougherty and his wife, Jessica Dougherty, moved into a building on the elderly victim’s 46-acre ranch in Boise purportedly to provide the victim with assistance with her ranch and horses in exchange for free rent.  Instead, James Dougherty stole her ranch through ostensibly legitimate estate planning documents and kicked her out of her home.

After James and Jessica were arrested in August 2022, and while in pretrial custody, Jessica Dougherty made a call from the Ada County jail and requested that an individual “flash” or “reset” a Dell laptop computer located at the ranch.  Within hours, an individual followed Jessica Dougherty’s request and records relevant to the investigation involving the victim were permanently destroyed from the Dell laptop computer. 

Jessica Dougherty admitted to knowingly causing the destruction of the records with the intent to obstruct the investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting cases like this to protect older Idahoans and to seek justice for them if they fall prey to wrongdoing.  These efforts depend on community members looking out for their loved ones and neighbors and reporting suspected elder fraud or elder abuse.

To report the physical abuse or neglect of elders, and contact local law enforcement or Adult Protective Services ( or 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.

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 




Public Information Officer

(208) 334-1211

Updated June 14, 2024

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud