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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office Hosts Fraud and Abuse Prevention Seminars for Seniors

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – This week, the United States Attorney’s Office partnered with the Winchester and Waltham Police Departments to host financial fraud awareness seminars for older adults at the Winchester Senior Community Center and the Waltham Council on Aging.

The seminars provided education and awareness to local seniors about financial fraud and featured a number of presentations from seasoned professionals, including Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Deputy U.S. Attorney Mary Murrane; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Elder Justice Coordinator, with assistance from members of the Internal Revenue Service and United States Postal Service. Topics covered included common scams directed at older adults; ways to avoid being victimized; what to do if victimized; and available local, state and federal resources. This week’s events were in support of the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to fighting for justice for older adults and stopping elder abuse and financial fraud by actively promoting public awareness. 

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center 2022 report, victims over 60 experienced an 84% increase in loss from 2021. The total loss reported was over $3 billion, including nearly 5,500 victims who lost over $100,000. Millions of older Americans fall prey to various financial scams, including tech support schemes; romance scams; and sweepstakes scams just to name a few. Perpetrators establish trust through online, phone, or mail communication, as well as indirectly through TV and radio. The financial exploitation of older adults often leads to a diminished quality of life through the potential loss of independence, declined health and psychological or emotional distress caused by the victimization. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy speaking at elder fraud seminar

“Protecting seniors from abuse and exploitation is one of my top priorities. Outreach activities like this are essential to raise awareness and educate communities about potential threats, how to report them, steps people can take to protect themselves from being victimized and available resources,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Levy. “Scams targeting seniors are not just about the money lost – they also rob victims of their dignity and self-confidence. Our office would much rather prevent criminal conduct than prosecute it.  Nonetheless we are committed to continue our will strong track record of prosecuting individuals who prey on vulnerable members of our communities.”

“Preventing the perpetration of fraud against our elderly community is a top priority of IRS CI,” said Harry Chavis, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Boston. “This week’s seminars mark a key milestone in our efforts to educate the community and provide them with the tools they need to identify fraud schemes before they are victimized.  We appreciate the opportunity to partner with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for this awareness seminar and we will continue that collaboration as we investigate financial fraud schemes that prey on our most vulnerable populations.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, our senior citizens. We know that many elderly Americans are specifically targeted by scammers who aim to steal pensions and life savings through deceptive and manipulative tactics. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service takes every opportunity to conduct public outreach and educate seniors on the various ways they can safeguard themselves from becoming a scammer’s next target. We are proud to partner with our federal and local law enforcement partners on the topic of elder fraud and abuse prevention to continue this important work of protecting American seniors” said Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Division.

“Protecting our seniors is one of our highest priorities and something we take very seriously. Bringing awareness to these scams is essential to reducing victimization.  One way we accomplish this is through partnerships. We are pleased to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and look forward to future collaborations that will enhance the lives and safety of all Waltham residents” said Waltham Police Chief Daniel O’Connell.

“Since 2020, the Winchester Police Department has seen a rise in “grandchildren in need” scams, IRS fraud claims, contracting scams and fraudulent “government official” phone scams. It is through educational programs like this, that we can help prevent and protect our vulnerable residents from theft,” said Sergeant Michael DeRosa, Community Resource Officer of the Winchester Police Department. 

To learn more about common elder fraud schemes and ways to protect yourself, please visit: https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/elder-fraud. A free brochure with this information can be accessed here: https://www.justice.gov/file/1523236/download. You can also visit https://www.justice.gov/file/1172351/download to learn more about warning signs of elder abuse and reporting resources in Massachusetts. For more information and resources from the Department of Justice's Elder Justice Initiative, please visit https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

If you need assistance or to report elder abuse, please contact your local adult protective services agency through the Eldercare Locator or by call the helpline at 1-800-677-1116 Monday – Friday 9am – 8pm EST. To report elder fraud, please visit the FBI’s IC3 Elder Fraud Complaint Center or contact the dedicated National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833–FRAUD–11 or 833–372–8311 Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm EST. 

Updated February 23, 2024

Topics
Elder Justice
Community Outreach