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Press Release

The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Tennessee Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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

NASHVILLE – United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee, 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 Leventis emphasized the importance of awareness and education.

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 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 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. 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.

The United States Attorney’s Office continues to work with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes. In April 2023, a federal jury convicted a defendant of twelve felony counts related to a scheme to defraud an elderly widow of over one million dollars. The defendant tricked the victim into believing that he would care for her personally and financially.  He held himself out as the victim’s “personal representative,” her “son” or her “godson,” and pretended that he was acting on her behalf. In total, the defendant defrauded the victim of approximately $1.2 million.  He used her money to purchase luxury items and often spent over $1,000 per day on lottery tickets.  The defendant’s lavish spending using the victim’s money included purchasing a Lexus GX460, a 4.3-karat diamond ring, and a $170,000 interest in a pest control business.

Fraud related to nursing homes and worthless services remains a priority for the office. The office leads the District’s Elder Justice Task Force to ensure coordination across law enforcement agencies on the most recent scams targeting seniors, including AI-generated scams.

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

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 

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Mark H. Wildasin

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney

(615) 736-2079

Updated June 15, 2024

Elder Justice