HARRISBURG – Attorney General William P. Barr and U.S. Attorney David J. Freed today announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, surpassing last year’s nationwide sweep. The cases during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than two million Americans, most of them elderly.
- Omoefe Okoro, age 48, a citizen of Canada, was charged in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Okoro and others are alleged to have engaged in an attorney “collection scam” in Ontario, Canada, and elsewhere. In particular, Okoro and his co-conspirators are alleged to have conducted a scheme in which they contacted businesses and individuals, including elderly victims, and requested, among other things, to collect an outstanding debt. The suspects, posing as the third party, then sent a counterfeit check to the victim for deposit and requested that the victim wire funds to an account overseas, typically in Japan, South Korea, or China. Canada surrendered Okoro to the United States on Aug. 29, 2018. Okoro is currently scheduled for trial on May 6, 2019.
“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But thanks to the hard work of our agents and prosecutors, as well as our state and local partners, the Department of Justice is protecting our seniors from fraud. The Trump administration has placed a renewed focus on prosecuting those who prey on the elderly, and the results of today’s sweep make that clear. Today we are announcing the largest single law enforcement action against elder fraud in American history. This year’s sweep involves 13 percent more criminal defendants, 28 percent more in losses, and twice the number of fraud victims as last year’s sweep. I want to thank the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which led this effort, together with the Department’s Criminal Division, the more than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and the state and local partners who helped to make these results possible. Together, we are bringing justice and peace of mind to America's seniors.”
“Perpetrators of Elder Abuse and Elder Financial Fraud purposefully choose their victims, hoping that they will be unable or unwilling to ask for help, using ever more sophisticated methods to support their scams,” said U.S. Attorney Freed. “We are proud to join our efforts today with those of our colleagues in Washington and throughout the nation, and to work with our state and local colleagues to bring federal resources to tackling this persistent problem.”
The Department took action in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at over three fourths of one billion dollars.
The charges are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. The Justice Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.
Do not remain silent if you were a victim of financial fraud, speak out and tell someone. Find the right reporting agency by going to Elder Abuse Resource Roadmaps: elderjustice.gov/roadmap or call the Victim Connect Hotline at 1-855-4Victim.
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A fact-sheet with technical-support fraud case information can be found here.
A fact-sheet with cases on mass mailing fraud can be found here.
A fact-sheet with examples of a few elder fraud cases involving extradition in which the Office of International Affairs played a substantial role can be found here.