June 11, 2024

Southern District of Mississippi Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Morgan Howard

Press Release from U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Mississippi

 Jackson, Miss.  – Todd Gee, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, joins national, state, local, and Tribal leaders in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Since 2006, WEAAD has been commemorated to promote awareness and increase understanding of the many forms of elder abuse as well as the resources available to those at risk.

Highlighting the partnership between law enforcement and the public, U.S. Attorney Gee emphasized the importance of awareness and education.

“Fraudulent scams targeting elders and other forms of elder abuse happen far too often in Mississippi and throughout the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Gee.  “We can see these scams being attempted nearly every day in the junk emails and robocalls targeting elder relatives for money and personal information.  World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is a great opportunity to spread information about how to protect elder family and friends from fraud and other abuse.”

Elder abuse is an act that knowingly, intentionally, or negligently causes or creates a serious risk of harm to an older person by a family member, caregiver, or other person in a trust relationship. Such harm may be financial, physical, sexual, or psychological. The Justice Department maintains a variety of programs and initiatives to combat elder abuse.

The Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force marshals federal and state agencies working collaboratively to investigate and prosecute foreign-based schemes that target older Americans. In addition to aggressively investigating the individuals, organizations, and networks responsible for these crimes, this initiative provides the public with information to guard against both traditional scams, like tech support fraud, as well as trending schemes, such as romance scams.

Using one scam to perpetrate or conceal another, some fraudsters rely on money mules to move the proceeds of their illegal activity. Preying on the good will or financial vulnerability of their targets, scammers recruit people, many times older victims, to participate in schemes to move money in ways that avoid notice. The Money Mule Initiative identifies and addresses money mule activity to disrupt these fraud schemes, and helps people to recognize and avoid participation in perpetuating fraud.

To help older individuals and their families identify and avoid fraudulent activity, the Justice Department provides Senior Scam Alerts with information about the tactics used in specific schemes.

For example, in Social Security Administration Impostor schemes, scammers impersonate government administrators and falsely reporting suspicious activity to request that the victims provide their Social Security number for confirmation. In Tech Support scams, fraudsters contact victims, sometimes through internet pop-up messages, to warn about non-existent computer problems, ask that the victim give them remote access to their computer, and identify a non-existent problem, then demand large sums of money for unnecessary services. In Lottery scams, telemarketers falsely notify victims that they have won a sweepstakes and tell them they must first pay fees for shipping, insurance, customs duties, or taxes before they can claim their prizes. To learn more about the department’s elder justice efforts please visit the Elder Justice Initiative page.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi continues to work with federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes.  For example, the office recently prosecuted a case involving six college track and field athletes for their roles in overseas fraud schemes targeting elders and others across the United States in romance scams, fraudulent goods scams and military scams. The victims of the fraud schemes would be instructed to send money to individuals based in the United States, who would then transfer the money ultimately back overseas.

Additionally, a Kiln man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for convincing his elderly neighbors to give him their personal identifying information so he could help them receive benefits related to the COVID pandemic.  Evans then used that information to apply for unemployment insurance under the Economic Security (CARES) Act benefits in the victims’ names and had the benefits sent to him at his residence.

To report elder fraud, contact the dedicated National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 or 1-833-372-8311 and visit the FBI’s IC3 Elder Fraud Complaint Center at IC3.gov. 

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