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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio
Information and vigilance remain key elements to preventing elder abuse

Rebecca C. Lutzko, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, joins national, state, and local leaders in recognizing June 15, 2024, as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  Since 2006, leaders and organizations around the world have commemorated this day to promote awareness and increase understanding of the many forms of elder abuse and the resources available to those at risk.

Highlighting the partnership between law enforcement and the public, U.S. Attorney Lutzko emphasized the importance of awareness and education.

“Elder abuse often takes the form of fraud.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we aggressively investigate and prosecute individuals, organizations, and networks who lie to older adults in our community, attempting to steal money from them through a scam,” said U.S. Attorney Lutzko.  “Every day, more and more scammers pretend to call or email from a government entity or well-known business and attempt to obtain personal identity and financial information from older adults and others, which they then use to commit financial crimes.  We hope that by bringing awareness to this issue, more of us will look out for our family and friends who might be the target of such a crime, and report it to federal, state, or local authorities.”

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 who is in or creates 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 Justice Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force includes federal and state agencies that work together to investigate and prosecute foreign-based schemes that target older Americans.  This initiative also provides the public with information to guard against both traditional scams, like tech-support fraud, as well as trending schemes, such as romance scams.

Some fraudsters take a different tack in abusing older adults, using them as unwitting money mules to move the proceeds of illegal activity that they have already committed.  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 from the scammers' crimes, in ways that avoid notice.  Scammers might recruit people to act as money mules through online job ads or social media postings, seeking people to send or receive money or packages, or to open accounts and forward money.  The Justice Department’s Money Mule Initiative identifies and addresses this type of activity to disrupt these fraud schemes, and helps people learn how to recognize the signs of suspicious activity.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio continues to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder-abuse crimes that touch our District.  Most recently, the Office prosecuted a case in which two men ran a “grandparent scam” where they pretended to be a relative, or an attorney for a relative, and claimed that the family member needed money for bail to get out of jail.  This scheme caused the victims a combined loss of more than $383,932.  In another case, a lottery scheme took more than $260,000 from older adults. The fraudsters contacted people by mail or phone and told them that they had won a lottery or sweepstakes.  But they required the victims to pay upfront fees or taxes to claim the purported “prize.”  In yet another instance, the Office prosecuted a woman for forging the victim’s signature on a power of attorney form so she could take money from the victim’s financial accounts.  In each case, these fraudsters caused older adults and their families financial loss and emotional turmoil.

To help older individuals and their families identify and avoid fraudulent activity, the Justice Department provides periodic 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 tell victims that there has been suspicious activity in connection with their social security account, or that their account is suspended, and claim that the victim must 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.  They then ask that the victim give them remote access to their computer and the fraudster will lie and say their computer has a problem, and then demand large sums of money for unnecessary services to fix the “problem.”  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.

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

In addition, representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio periodically speak about elder-fraud issues at community presentations throughout northern Ohio.  If an organization is interested in coordinating such a presentation, they can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (216) 622-3600 or at

Finally, if you observe something that you believe might be fraudulent conduct involving an older adult, 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 to report it.


Jessica Salas Novak

(216) 622-3921

Updated June 14, 2024

Elder Justice