U.S. Attorneys, FBI, and AARP team up to help educate seniors
The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of West Virginia and the Southern District of West Virginia and the FBI are teaming up to educate the aging population the mountain state and their families about the dangers of elder fraud.
Today, U.S. Attorneys Bill Powell and Mike Stuart partnered with FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones and the AARP to conduct outreach and raise awareness to educate senior citizens about the latest scams so they do not fall victim. More than 200 seniors in West Virginia had the opportunity to participate in an interactive telephone town hall to learn about the latest financial scams.
“West Virginia’s senior citizens represent a significant but often vulnerable population. They are regular targets of fraudsters and scammers who often cause catastrophic and irreversible financial losses. Attorney General Barr and all United States Attorneys are aggressively pursuing those who prey on our seniors,” said Powell.
“Our seniors are being exploited through grandparent scams, fake prizes, romance scams, fraudulent IRS refunds and deliberate extortion,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “You can rest assured that we are working with our federal, state and local partners to combat all types of elder fraud and to hold the fraudsters accountable. I will do everything within my power to protect West Virginia’s elderly.”
Scammers are targeting senior citizens at an alarming rate. Across the country victims lost $2.71 billion to fraud in 2018 according to statistics collected by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. West Virginia victims over the age of 60 lost more than $4 million to scams in 2018, nearly quadrupling from losses in 2017.
"Our seniors did not grow up in a world with technology," said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. "For many, navigating through these advances may be difficult. That's when the predators come in and prey on their vulnerabilities. All of us at the FBI will do everything we can to make sure our seniors are supported and protected from being victims of fraud."
The Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative aims to combat elder financial exploitation by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors; educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid getting ripped off by scammers; and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners.
In March of this year, Attorney General William P. Barr and multiple law enforcement partners including the FBI, announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. The Department took action in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases. The cases brought during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than two million Americans, most of them elderly. 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.
For more information about the Elder Justice Initiative, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice.