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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee Marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by Reconfirming Commitment to Combatting Senior Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maine
475 Maine seniors were scammed out of more than $2.5M in 2021

PORTLAND, Maine: Today marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee is concerned for Maine’s senior generation. Elder abuse can take many forms, including financial exploitation, caregiver neglect, and physical, sexual or psychological abuse. Annually, 15-20 million older Americans face some form of elder abuse.

“The impact on victims of elder abuse can be devastating,” U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee said. “At the federal level, the cases we most often see involve senior scams, and instances are becoming far too prevalent. Last year alone, 475 senior Maine residents were scammed out of more than $2.5 million while nationally the losses were a staggering $1.7 billion.”

Across the country, Department of Justice personnel and its law enforcement partners are pursuing fraudsters who swindle money from older adults. For example:

  • Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force is a federal-state collaborative body that investigates and prosecutes individuals and organizations engaged in foreign-based fraud schemes that disproportionately affect older Americans.
  • Money Mule Initiative  involves federal, state and local law enforcement agencies specifically identifying and addressing money mule activity to disrupt these fraud schemes that impact older Americans.
  • The National Nursing Home Initiative coordinates and enhances civil and criminal pursuit of nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.
  • Elder Fraud Initiative within the Consumer Protection Branch is the Department’s leader in prosecuting elder fraud crimes.
  • Elder Justice Coordinators serving in each of the U.S. Attorney’s Offices actively pursue elder fraud in their respective jurisdictions.

“The Department has a strong elder justice history that I continue to fully support,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “We all know an older family member or friend who has been the victim of financial fraud, either domestically or internationally, and we’ve witnessed first-hand how financial loss impacts older adults. The Department has devoted significant personnel and resources specifically to combat financial fraud committed against older Americans.”  

Report Elder Abuse: Victims of elder abuse are often hesitant to report it. While the Department of Justice remains committed to prosecuting cases of elder abuse, raising public awareness of scams and encouraging the reporting cases of abuse are vital to combatting the epidemic.

  • To report financial fraud: contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 or 833-372-8311.
  • To report elder abuse in Maine: call 1-800-624-8404 (24-hour, toll free) or Maine Relay 711 to report abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

“Maine seniors deserve to feel safe and secure without the concern of predators lurking, whether online or in person,” McElwee said. “We all must play a role in protecting our elder generation by being aware, vigilant and reporting suspected or attempted abuse.”

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Contact: Jana Spaulding
Public Information & Community Outreach Officer, Contract
Tel: (207) 771-3232

Updated June 15, 2022

Elder Justice