Southern District of Florida Observes the 16th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Miami, Florida -- Today, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Juan Antonio Gonzalez joins leaders from South Florida’s federal law enforcement community in observing the 16th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Each year, on June 15th, people across the world pause for a moment to reflect on the millions of older adults who have suffered abuse, neglect, and exploitation. As part of the observance, the South Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners affirm their ongoing commitment to combatting elder abuse in all its forms.
"Seniors have a right to a safe and dignified life free from all forms of exploitation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Juan Antonio Gonzalez. “Those who take advantage of South Florida’s seniors, whether through local criminal acts or through transnational fraud schemes, will be held accountable.”
“Elder fraud takes many shapes and sizes as criminal elements seek to take advantage of this vulnerable and growing population,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local FBI field office or other law enforcement agency, or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at https://tips.fbi.gov.”
“It is the elderly that have paved the ways in our communities; therefore, we must strive together to protect them. Abuse of the elderly is inexcusable and will not be tolerated by IRS Criminal Investigation. We will continue our efforts in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring justice to those who have been financially stripped of their lifelong earnings and victimized by appalling acts,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Tyler R. Hatcher, IRS Criminal Investigation, Miami Field Office.
The Southern District of Florida is at the forefront of our nation’s elder justice efforts. For example, through their work on the Department of Justice’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force, the South Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partners investigate and prosecute foreign-based criminal organizations that target seniors in schemes including mass mailing fraud, grandparent scams, romance scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams, IRS and Social Security Administration imposter scams, and technical-support scams. Through the Southern District of Florida Covid-19 Fraud Task Force created at the start of the pandemic, they investigate and prosecute criminals who devise coronavirus testing, treatment, and financial relief scams to prey on people with increased vulnerabilities, including seniors who in 2020 quickly found themselves in isolation and at high risk of serious illness.
Recognizing the importance of prevention, the District complements its prosecution efforts with public awareness and education campaigns that seek to help seniors identify, avoid, and report potential fraud or abuse. These include direct outreach to seniors at residential living facilities and adult daycare centers, communicating through print, broadcast, and social media, and otherwise making themselves to concerned seniors and their loved ones.
“By educating others on how to recognize an elder fraud scheme and how to report it, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and its law enforcement partners are providing the necessary tools to prevent elder victimization,” said Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division. “We will continue to protect our most vulnerable population of elderly individuals by educating everyone on elder fraud schemes and bringing the fraud schemers to justice, today and every day.”
As the world takes this day to remember seniors, know that the Southern District of Florida’s federal prosecutors and law enforcement officers are relentlessly committed to preventing and prosecuting fraud and abuse on America’s seniors.