Justice Department continues fight against elder fraud, abuse

Staff Reports • Feb 22, 2018 at 1:24 PM

NASHVILLE – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners emphasized Thursday the importance of the fight against elder fraud and abuse as the Department of Justice announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history.

Joined by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspection Service, the National Association of Attorneys General and Senior Corps, among others, Sessions discussed the filing of more than 80 federal elder fraud cases against more than 250 defendants.

The cases include criminal, civil and forfeiture actions in more than 50 federal districts. In each case, offenders engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. The charged schemes caused more than half a billion dollars of loss to more than one million victims.

“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Sessions. “[Thursday’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 saving 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 criminal from exploiting our seniors.”

On March 30, 2016, the Department of Justice announced the formation of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Force units, including one in the Middle District of Tennessee, which includes Wilson County. The teams have worked to bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement and oversight agencies to provide community outreach and law enforcement training related to elder fraud and abuse issues.

Since its formation, the Middle District of Tennessee’s Elder Justice Task Force has met regularly to discuss issues facing senior citizens. The Task Force includes representatives from the FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability and the Tennessee Department of Health.

“Many senior citizens experience circumstances that make them particularly vulnerable to fraud and abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran. “This office has been honored to participate in the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, and to be home to one of its 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces. We will continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute those who take advantage of seniors and the federal programs that serve them, and to coordinate with our state and local partners to fight elder fraud and abuse throughout our region.”

In light of the recently enacted Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, the task force plans to redouble its law enforcement training and community outreach efforts in the coming months.

As part of this work, the Middle District of Tennessee has launched an Elder Justice Task Force page on its website. The page contains an overview of the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, links to elder justice resources provided by the organization’s state partners in Tennessee, resources for victims seeking legal assistance and a list of elder fraud and abuse matters resolved in the Middle District of Tennessee.

Anyone who wants to report elder fraud and abuse should complete the elder justice complaint form on the Elder Justice Task Force website and submit the completed form to usatnm-elderjustice@usdoj.gov.

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