The US Department of Justice (DOJ) swept up more than 400 defendants for committing fraud against elder citizens this month. The sweep crossed international boundaries as DOJ attacked fraud against elders conducted by “transnational criminal organizations.” The sweep is part of DOJ’s overall attack against the five subtypes of elder abuse.

Annual International Sweeps

In order to highlight its importance, the sweep against elder fraud is an annual event. Results of the 2020 sweep exceeded those of the March 2019 sweep which involved approximately 260 defendants. This year the sweep grew by more than 50% and targeted loss of nearly $1 billion.

The sweep also is an international event. DOJ created a Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force that focuses on prosecuting individuals and entities based overseas that target Americans. The Strike Force prosecuted more that 100 of those swept up in 2020.

Five Subtypes of Elder Abuse

US Attorney General William Barr announced the 2020 results personally because he considers ending elder abuse a top priority. Elders are considered especially vulnerable to scams committed through the Internet and modern technology, with which they are unfamiliar. Among the variety of scams are grandparent scams, Internal Revenue Service imposter scams, and technical-support scams.

Financial exploitation is one of the five subtypes of elder abuse. The other subtypes are: physical abuse, psychological abuse, caregiver neglect and abandonment, and sexual abuse.

DOJ Efforts to End Elder Abuse

Antoinette Bacon serves as the National Elder Justice Coordinator for DOJ. Ms. Bacon is a seasoned prosecutor who also serves as Associate Deputy Attorney General within DOJ. In addition, each of the 94 US Attorney’s Offices in the country has an Elder Justice Coordinator who focuses on elder issues.

The effort to stop elder fraud uses civil enforcement tools and well as community outreach and education. DOJ established a National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311) to provide personalized support services to adults ages 60 and older.

The Attorney General also announced launch of a National Nursing Home Initiative that is discussed here in our Triage blog.