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Press Release

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

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

CHICAGO — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago today joined federal, state, and local partners in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which seeks to increase understanding of the many forms of elder abuse and the resources available to those at risk.

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 relationship of trust.  Such harm may be financial, physical, sexual, or psychological.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting perpetrators who target the elderly and other vulnerable individuals for abuse,” said Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  “On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, our office reminds seniors and their caregivers to remain constantly vigilant to detect and report fraudulent schemes.”

“We know that the vast majority of elder abuse cases go unreported and that too many victims remain unseen,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.  “That is why the Department of Justice has aggressively targeted perpetrators of elder fraud and abuse, while providing victims with the support they need.”

In the past five years, the Department of Justice has pursued more than 1,500 criminal and civil cases involving conduct that targeted or disproportionately affected older adults.   The Department has also returned hundreds of millions of dollars to elder fraud victims.

In the Northern District of Illinois, recent cases highlight the Department’s efforts to combat elder abuse:

Last month, Chicago businessman MARK STEVEN DIAMOND pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge for bilking elderly homeowners in a home repair and reverse mortgage scheme.  Diamond and the co-schemers targeted elderly victims based on the amount of equity in their homes and their relative lack of financial sophistication.  Diamond is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 4, 2024.

In March, the U.S. Attorney’s Office seized suspected fraud proceeds of approximately $1.4 million of Tether (USDT), a cryptocurrency pegged to the U.S. dollar.  The perpetrators, posing as tech support employees, informed victims who clicked on a computer popup that their bank accounts had been compromised.  The perpetrators convinced the victims to convert money from traditional bank accounts into cryptocurrency to keep it “safe” from hackers.  The scheme, which remains under investigation, impacted elderly victims throughout the U.S. 

SUZANA VUKANAC was indicted in December on money laundering charges for allegedly receiving and transferring more than $1 million in cash derived from telemarketing and other online fraud schemes.  Vukanac’s co-conspirators allegedly sold non-existent goods to victims, including the elderly, and falsely posed as romantic partners in need of money.  Vukanac has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

In the fight to combat elder abuse, the Department of Justice maintains a variety of programs and initiatives:

  • The Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force marshals federal and state agencies working collaboratively to investigate and prosecute foreign-based schemes that target older Americans.  This initiative provides the public with information to guard against both traditional scams, such as tech support fraud, as well as trending schemes, such as romance scams.
  • The Money Mule Initiative addresses money mule activity to disrupt these fraud schemes, and helps people to recognize and avoid participation in perpetuating fraud.  In a money mule scheme, scammers recruit unsuspecting people, many times older victims, to move money in ways that avoid notice.
  • To help older individuals and their families identify and avoid fraudulent activity, the Justice Department provides Senior Scam Alerts with information about tactics used in specific schemes, such as Social Security Administration impostor schemes, tech support scams, and lottery scams.

To learn more about the Department’s elder justice efforts please visit the Elder Justice Initiative page.  To report elder fraud, contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 or 1-833-372-8311, or visit the FBI’s Elder Fraud Complaint Center at

Updated June 14, 2024

Elder Justice