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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Northern District of West Virginia takes part in largest-ever nationwide elder fraud sweep

Attorney General Focuses on Threats Posed by Technical-Support Fraud

WHEELING – Attorney General William P. Barr and U.S. Attorney Bill Powell 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.

“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.”

“Crimes against the elderly are particularly heinous as they often involve taking advantage of already vulnerable people.  The crimes are often compounded when the elderly victims are reluctant to report them.  We encourage the reporting of these crimes so they can be fully investigated and aggressively prosecuted,” said Powell.

In the Northern District of West Virginia, there were several cases involving elder fraud, including the case of Karen Kinsley, a former bank branch manager, who pled guilty in September 2018 to bank fraud, admitted to taking out loans in customers’ names and reopening customers’ savings and checking accounts without the customers’ consent. She is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

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. 

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.

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Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Updated March 7, 2019