Senators Collins, Casey have led efforts to fight senior fraud, which costs older Americans an estimated $2.9 billion annually
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, welcomed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) announcement today of the largest-ever coordinated sweep of senior fraud cases. More than 250 defendants have been charged with scamming more than a million Americans in excess of half a billion dollars. In his remarks on the initiative at a press conference this morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions thanked the Aging Committee for its work to shed light on the widespread issue of fraud targeting seniors. Senator Collins has urged AG Sessions to make fighting senior fraud a priority.
“Today’s historic announcement of the largest-ever coordinated enforcement action on senior fraud is an important step forward in our efforts to protect older Americans from being robbed of their hard-earned savings,” said Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee. “This sends a clear message to criminals seeking to defraud seniors that they will be caught, their operations will be shut down, and they will be punished. It is encouraging to see the cooperation between the Attorney General, the FTC, and other federal and state organizations all working towards the shared goal of stopping senior scams. The Aging Committee will continue to lead efforts to expose these frauds and protect seniors.”
“I applaud the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other participating agencies on these enforcement actions against scams affecting seniors. By bringing cases against these scammers, we send a strong message to other con artists that we will not stand by and allow older Americans to be victimized,” said Senator Casey, the Ranking Member of the Aging Committee. “I hope we will continue to see scam artists caught, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent—their actions will not be tolerated. In the meantime, the Committee will continue its education efforts to ensure that seniors know how to protect themselves against such scams.”
The DOJ coordinated its announcement with the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General, who filed a number of these cases. The charges are related to a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds to individual incidences of identity theft and theft by guardians. Multiple cases involved transnational criminal organizations that defrauded hundreds of thousands of older victims, while others involved a single relative or fiduciary who took advantage of an individual victim.
Last month, the DOJ directed all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices to each designate an elder justice coordinator, who will develop strategies to protect seniors in their districts. This will promote greater cooperation between the DOJ and its law enforcement partners.
As the leaders of the Senate Aging Committee, Senators Collins and Casey have made fighting fraud targeting seniors one of their top priorities. They have held multiple hearings on prevalent scams, and each year they publish a comprehensive fraud resource guide describing some of the most common forms of fraud and ways to avoid them. The Committee also maintains a Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470) that is staffed by experienced fraud investigators.
The Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline fielded 1,108 calls in 2015. A year later, the Fraud Hotline’s call volume more than doubled to 2,282. Click HERE to read the Aging Committee’s 2017 Fraud Book.