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Press Release

United States Attorney Ritz Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Kevin G. Ritz, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, joins national, state, and local leaders in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2024. Since 2006, WEAAD has been commemorated to promote awareness and increases understanding of the many forms of elder abuse as well as the resources available to those at risk.

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

United States Attorney Ritz said: “My office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting those who abuse the elderly, including by financial exploitation.  To protect those at risk, we need citizens’ help.  Check in on older adults who may have few friends and family members and report any suspected abuse to law enforcement 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 in 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 Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force marshals federal and state agencies working collaboratively to investigate and prosecute foreign-based schemes that target older Americans. In addition to aggressively investigating the individuals, organizations, and networks responsible for these crimes, this initiative provides the public with information to guard against both traditional scams, like tech support fraud, as well as trending schemes, such as romance scams.

Using one scam to perpetrate or conceal another, some fraudsters rely on money mules to move the proceeds of their illegal activity. 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 in ways that avoid notice. The Money Mule Initiative identifies and addresses money mule activity to disrupt these fraud schemes, and helps people to recognize and avoid participation in perpetuating fraud.

To help older individuals and their families identify and avoid fraudulent activity, the Justice Department provides 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 falsely reporting suspicious activity to request that the victims 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, ask that the victim give them remote access to their computer, and identify a non-existent problem, then demand large sums of money for unnecessary services. 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.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Tennessee continues to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes.

To report elder fraud, 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 IC3.gov.

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For more information, please contact the Media Relations Team at USATNW.Media@usdoj.gov. Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Facebook or on X at @WDTNNews for office news and updates. 

Updated June 14, 2024

Topic
Elder Justice