The largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history was announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners Thursday.
The cases involve more than 250 defendants from around the globe who allegedly victimized more than one million Americans, most of whom were elderly, a Department of Justice news release said.
Of the defendants, 200 were charged criminally. The offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that caused losses of more than half a billion dollars.
“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” Sessions said.
A variety of fraud schemes were involved, including mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds as well as identity theft.
The FBI reminds seniors and their caregivers to be vigilant.
Mass-mailing fraud inflicts hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to elderly U.S. victims each year, the Department of Justice said. Some other examples of the elder financial exploitation prosecuted by the Department of Justice include:
- “Lottery phone scams,” in which callers convince seniors that a large fee or taxes must be paid before one can receive lottery winnings;
- “Grandparent scams,” which convince seniors that their grandchildren have been arrested and need bail money;
- “Romance scams,” which lull victims to believe that their online paramour needs funds for a U.S. visit or some other purpose;
- “IRS imposter schemes,” which defraud victims by posing as IRS agents and claiming that victims owe back taxes;
- “Guardianship schemes,” which siphon seniors’ financial resources into the bank accounts of deceitful relatives or guardians.Elder fraud complaints
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.