Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler joined Attorney General William P. Barr and the entire Department of Justice in observing the 15th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Department echoes voices around the world condemning elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our country and the world, but among those most severely affected by the threat of the novel virus are our senior citizens. During this time when seniors are most vulnerable and isolated from their families and loved ones by social distancing and quarantine restrictions, bad actors have immediately exploited this international tragedy to prey on the elderly through a whole host of scam and fraud schemes. As the world takes this day to remember the elderly during these uncertain times, the Department of Justice remains relentlessly committed, through its department-wide Elder Justice Initiative, to prevent and prosecute fraud on America’s seniors.
“My office recognizes that our Hoosier seniors are such a vital part of our society, but are some of the most vulnerable.” said Minkler. “The Southern District of Indiana has made it a priority to seek out individuals and criminal organizations that prey on the elderly.”
Earlier this year Attorney General Barr declared “Prevention and Disruption of Transnational Elder Fraud” to be an Agency Priority Goal , making it one of the Department’s four top priorities.
Major strides have already been made to that end:
- National Elder Fraud Hotline: 833-FRAUD-11
Earlier this year Attorney General Barr launched a National Elder Fraud Hotline. Staffed by experienced case managers who provide personalized support to callers, the hotline serves to assist elders and caretakers who believe they have been a victim of fraud by reporting and providing appropriate services.
- Annual Elder Justice Sweep: In March of this year, the Attorney General announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in department history. The Department, together with every U.S. Attorney’s office, charged more than 400 defendants, causing over $1 billion in loss through fraud schemes that largely affected seniors, 4 of which were in the Southern District of Indiana.
- Money Mule Initiative: Since October 2018, the Department and its law enforcement partners began a concentrated effort across the country and around the world to disrupt, investigate, and prosecute money mule activity used to facilitate fraud schemes, especially those victimizing senior citizens. In 2019 actions were taken to halt the conduct of more than 600 domestic money mules, exceeding a similar effort against approximately 400 mules in the previous year. The Southern District of Indiana has disrupted over a dozen money mules involved with fraudulent scams targeting the elderly.
- Holding foreign-based perpetrators and those that flee the United States accountable: Transnational criminal organizations are targeting our elder population 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. As a result of renewed focus on identifying and dismantling such transnational criminal organizations, the Southern District of Indiana successfully extradited and prosecuted an individual from Jamaica for perpetrating a lottery fraud scam against the elderly, and who used money mules to funnel the proceeds of the fraud back to Jamaica.
For more information on enforcement actions, training and resources, research, and victim services, please visit www.justice.gov/elderjustice .