On March 4, 2019, the Department of Justice announced the largest bust in the history of fraud against seniors. The Department took action against 260 defendants who defrauded more than two million Americans. The targets of the criminals were the elderly, whose losses exceeded $750 million. Many of the defendants are foreigners who are being extradited to the United States for prosecution.
Types of Scams
The defendants in the recent sweep used a variety of scams to steal money from seniors. In some cases, defendants operated fraudulent financial lending companies. Loans were offered, and people were asked to pay an insurance deposit when the loan was secured. Many older Americans paid the insurance, but the loans were fake and never came through.
Another scam involved contacting people by phone to say you had won a prize in a sweepstakes. The callers claimed to be officials who would make certain that the money was provided to the selected lucky winner. To help verify identity, victims were asked to send hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees and insurance. Americans paid the requested fees, but as you can guess there was no prize money.
From Canada, there was a scam offering prescription drug discounts. People were offered cards for $299 that supposedly provided a discount for purchasing need prescription drugs. There was no real discount business, just telemarketers seeking money for bogus discount cards. What type of a person decides to rob elderly victims with medical needs? These criminals are despicable.
The list of scams goes on, and we will continue to add more details.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder fraud, the Department of Justice encourages you to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The government also offers a variety of resources through the Office of Victims of Crimes at www.ovc.gov. Stay vigilant! These crimes targeting seniors are on the rise and increasing in sophistication.