Justice Department Coordinates Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep of More Than 250 Defendants
Roanoke, VIRGINIA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia is prosecuting a pair of cases that are part of the nationwide elder fraud sweep announced earlier today by Department of Justice Officials, United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners announced today the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. The cases involve more than two hundred and fifty defendants from around the globe who victimized more than a million Americans, most of whom were elderly. The cases include criminal, civil, and forfeiture actions across more than 50 federal districts. Of the defendants, 200 were charged criminally. In each case, offenders engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars. The Department coordinated its announcement with the FTC and state Attorneys General, who independently filed numerous cases targeting elder frauds within the sweep period.
“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Attorney General Sessions. “Today’s actions send a clear message: we will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are. When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at the Department’s disposal – criminal prosecutions to punish offenders, civil injunctions to shut the schemes down, and asset forfeiture to take back ill-gotten gains. Today is only the beginning. I have directed Department prosecutors to coordinate with both domestic law enforcement partners and foreign counterparts to stop these criminals from exploiting our seniors.”
The actions charged a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds to individual incidences of identity theft and theft by guardians. A number of cases involved transnational criminal organizations that defrauded hundreds of thousands of elderly victims, while others involved a single relative or fiduciary who took advantage of an individual victim. The schemes charged in these cases caused losses to more than a million victims.
“Fraud against the elderly is a particularly heinous crime that targets some of society’s most vulnerable victims,” U.S. Attorney Mountcastle said. “These frauds come in many forms, from financial frauds to romance schemes, but all weave the common thread of preying on the elderly. Here in the Western District of Virginia we will continue to stay ahead of the curve in combating elder fraud through our work with local elder fraud task forces and by bringing cases like those included in today’s announcement.”
US v. Michel Dean Kent
Kent pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg in October 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to a timeshare fraud scheme that targeted more than 500 victims, many of whom were elderly. Kent admitted to contacting individuals who owned timeshares, by phone and email, and convincing them, under false pretenses, to sign property transfer contracts and to send him currency under false pretenses.
US v. Linda Jane Hall
Hall was indicted by a grand jury in the Western District of Virginia in October 2017 and charged with wire fraud and money laundering. According to the indictment, Hall targeted four elderly victims, contacting them via telephone, and convinced them to wire her approximately $457,000 between 2009 and 2015. The defendant is scheduled for a jury trial in March 2018.
In addition to casework, prosecutors from the Western District of Virginia sit on elder fraud task forces to coordinate with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and community partners on potential risks being faced by the local elderly population.
Elder Fraud Complaints
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.