BY DANIEL GAITAN | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Justice Department targeted more than 250 people across the globe accused of cheating seniors out of more than half a billion dollars.
The February operation marks the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history.
The cases involve individuals who allegedly victimized more than a million Americans, most of whom were elderly, according to a Justice Department media release.
The cases include criminal, civil and forfeiture actions across more than 50 federal districts. Of the defendants, 200 were charged criminally.
“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 Jeff Sessions in a statement.
Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks at the 2018 Elder Fraud Sweep Press Conference https://t.co/Jqsn2A1vrP
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) February 22, 2018
Sessions said the Feb. 22 operation sends a clear message to criminals: “we will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are.”
Sessions has directed prosecutors to coordinate with both domestic law enforcement partners and foreign counterparts, adding during a press conference that “the Trump Administration is taking action.”
Seniors were targeted with a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from telemarketing, mass mailing and investment frauds. Some were even taken advantage of by caregivers and relatives.
Each year, an estimated $3 billion are stolen or defrauded from millions of American seniors, Sessions said.
FBI Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich said many victims are left destitute and emotionally drained. To help protect the most vulnerable, Bowdich said caregivers must remain vigilant.
“If any person believes they are the victim of, or have knowledge of fraud involving an elderly person, regardless of the loss amount, they should report it to the FBI,” he said in a statement.
Elder fraud complaints may also be filed with the FTC.
Woman Brought To Tears
A Texas woman was brought to tears at the Justice Department as she recalled how her 82-year-old grandmother committed suicide after being scammed out of her life’s savings, ABC News reports.
“These individuals preyed on her and on her good heart,” said Angela Stancik, of Houston. “What should have been some of the best years and the last chapter of her life was taken from her. She was robbed in every sense.