Earlier today, the Justice Department issued its fifth annual report to Congress its efforts to combat elder fraud and abuse. The report summarizes the Department’s extensive efforts during the reporting period from July 1, 2022 through June 30.
“The Justice Department is intensifying our efforts to fight the despicable crimes of elder fraud and abuse,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As reflected in this year’s report, the Department is aggressively pursuing perpetrators of elder fraud and abuse, supporting victims, and raising public awareness to prevent elder fraud and abuse before they occur.”
“During the past year, the Department has pursued hundreds of criminal and civil cases to bring perpetrators who prey on older adults to justice,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Working with our law enforcement partners, our agents and prosecutors have employed disruption strategies and obtained restitution and forfeiture orders to deter potential offenders, minimize losses, make victims financially whole, and prevent wrongdoers from profiting from their crimes.”
“Every year, millions of older Americans experience some form of elder abuse. And sadly, the majority of elder abuse cases go unreported,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The Department is taking an active and multifaceted approach to addressing elder abuse, and our efforts reflect the hard work of so many, including our prosecutors, crime victim specialists, agents and investigators, program analysts, and subject matter experts.”
This year’s report reflects the four pillars of the Department’s elder justice work.
First, holding perpetrators of elder abuse and fraud accountable is the cornerstone of the Department’s elder justice work. During the reporting period, the Department brought nearly 300 criminal and civil actions against more than 650 defendants who collectively stole more than $1.5 billion from over 2.4 million victims. Some of these defendants engaged in transnational and domestic fraud schemes, including lottery, romance, and tech support scams. The Department also pursued nursing home operators that provided grossly substandard care to their residents.
Second, the Department supports in various ways older Americans who have experienced abuse or financial exploitation. Over the past year, the Department returned hundreds of millions of dollars to victims of elder fraud schemes, while helping to freeze millions of dollars for other older victims before their funds were transferred to fraudsters. The Department also supported over 5,000 victim assistance organizations that provided services (including individual advocacy, crisis intervention, civil legal assistance, transportation, and emergency shelter) to over 240,000 victims aged 60 and older. The Department continued to support the National Elder Fraud Hotline, which helped tens of thousands of older adults report suspected fraud or connected them to available social services.
Third, as state, local, and Tribal elder justice professionals are often on the front line in responding to elder abuse and fraud cases, the Department worked to support the capacity and ability of state, local, and Tribal communities to identify, address, and combat elder abuse in its many forms. For example, the Department awarded grants to six Enhanced Multidisciplinary teams to work with older victims of financial exploitation and abuse. These grantees join the 23 local multidisciplinary teams also funded by the Department to better identify and respond to cases of elder abuse and more comprehensively serve and support victims of financial exploitation. The Department also funded the first National Center for State and Tribal Elder Justice Coalitions to support statewide coordination and collaboration among elder justice organizations, and developed and shared new resources, training, and tools for state and local law enforcement to more effectively identify and investigate elder abuse and fraud.
Lastly, the Department is committed to raising public awareness of fraud schemes and empowering older Americans and their families with the knowledge and information to protect themselves from elder fraud and abuse. For that reason, Department employees conducted or participated in over 700 elder justice outreach and training events across the country to raise public awareness of elder fraud and abuse and reached over 28 million Americans.
To report elder financial fraud, call the National Elder Fraud Hotline, 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). For more information on the Department’s elder justice activities, visit www.elderjustice.gov.