Tags: attorney general jeff sessions | justice dept. | elder abuse | world elder abuse awareness day

Sessions Calls Elder Abuse 'Malicious, Despicable Crimes'

Sessions Calls Elder Abuse 'Malicious, Despicable Crimes'
Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Getty Images)

By    |   Saturday, 16 June 2018 11:19 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called incidents of elder abuse "malicious, despicable crimes" in a speech on Friday to the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Event in Washington, D.C.

Speaking to a group that included 11 U.S. attorneys representing federal law enforcement from states across the country, Sessions detailed the problems from the growing trend nationwide of elder abuse and outlined new measures the Justice Department was taking to combat the problem.

"That abuse can be physical. But often that abuse takes the form of financial exploitation or fraud," Sessions said.

"Each year, an estimated 3 billion is stolen or defrauded from millions of American seniors. Through 'grandparent scams,' fake prizes, romance scams, fraudulent IRS refunds, and even outright extortion, criminals try to exploit some of the most vulnerable Americans and steal their life's savings.

"These are malicious, despicable crimes," Sessions explained.

The Senate Aging Committee Fraud Hotline has seen a spike in reports of elder abuse, doubling in 2016 over the previous year, Sessions said, adding it was a particular concern for the 20 percent of American seniors who live in rural communities where law enforcement resources are thin and information can be hard to find for answers to abuse issues.

Sessions also said cases of elder abuse are often part of a "transnational criminal enterprise." He pointed to an initiative the Justice Dept. began in February that he described as "the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history."

"We charged more than 200 defendants with committing fraud schemes against more than one million American seniors. We brought civil actions against dozens more. The defendants in these cases allegedly robbed seniors of more than half a billion dollars.

"The fraud schemes stopped by this operation that caused the greatest loss to victims were international. The victims of those schemes were mostly Americans — but the criminals behind the schemes were mostly from overseas. State and local law enforcement don't have the jurisdiction or the resources to take on these cases. But we do," he said.

Sessions also explained that in January he had ordered all 94 U.S. attorneys' offices to designate an elder justice coordinator responsible for developing initiatives customized for their area's particular needs.

"This will ensure even greater cooperation between the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners at the state and local levels. We believe that will help us complete more cases and secure more convictions," he explained.

Next steps in combatting the problem will include a liaison with the Department of Agriculture, employing the resources of the USDA which he maintained already had a presence in rural communities and could help educate seniors about the issue.

"We will work together to publish information and to schedule public events and town hall meetings that will educate seniors on the threat of fraud and on how to report these crimes," he said.

Sessions added the Justice Department will hold a nationwide elder justice training event in August and had published "EAGLE, the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement." Additionally, in November a summit will be held to "call attention to this issue, improve our law enforcement tactics and prevent elder abuse from continuing to spread."

"I am confident that, if we work together, we can ensure that seniors have the security and the peace of mind that they deserve," Sessions concluded.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions called incidents of elder abuse "malicious, despicable crimes" in a speech on Friday to the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Event in Washington, D.C. Speaking to a group that included 11 U.S. attorneys representing federal law enforcement from...
attorney general jeff sessions, justice dept., elder abuse, world elder abuse awareness day
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2018-19-16
Saturday, 16 June 2018 11:19 AM
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