US Attorney provides outreach in advance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Vermont Business Magazine In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2024 and because of the prevalence of financial fraud perpetrated against older adults, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont has joined with its partners at the U.S. Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and Diplomatic Security Service to share information and training with the Vermont elder community. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partners presented information and training at the Charlotte Senior Center on May 15, 2024, the Residences at the Essex on June 6, 2024, and will be presenting at the Shelburne Town Hall on June 24, 2024. 

First recognized on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) seeks to promote a better understanding of the abuse and neglect suffered by millions of older adults – crimes that are often overlooked or unreported. WEAAD brings attention to the cultural, social, economic, and demographic factors that contribute to elder abuse. 

“Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical, emotional, and financial abuse. These threats to older adults demand our attention,” said U.S. Attorney Nikolas Kerest. “In addition to prosecuting those who take advantage of older adults, participating in outreach and providing useful information to our elder community members is a priority of this office. By doing this work, we can create a safer, more supportive environment for our older Vermonters and ensure that they receive the respect and protection they deserve.” 

In addition to the outreach efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partners, in April 2024, a scam alert issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) warned of fraudsters impersonating SSA OIG agents. In this latest iteration of government imposter scams, fraudsters request victims to meet them in person to hand off cash. Variations of the scam include fraudsters posing as IRS agents demanding money for unpaid taxes, as sheriff’s office deputies threatening arrest for purported outstanding fines, and as prosecutors or court personnel threatening prosecution or jail time for failing to comply with jury duty service. 

Additional financial schemes targeting older adults are: 

Tech Support Scams – Convince victims to pay for non-existent computer problems. 

Non-Delivery Scams – Induce victims to pay for goods or services online, but never receive them or convince victims that additional payment or personal information is required to complete a package delivery. 

Romance Scams – Lull victims into believing they are in an online romantic relationship and money needs to be sent to pay for a visit to the U.S. or for some other purpose. 

Grandparent Scams – Dupe victims into thinking that their grandchildren or other relatives are in trouble and need money right away for bail or another emergency. 

Charity Scams – Solicit donations for fake charities, or by altering or “spoofing” caller IDs to show the name of a real charity on the phone. 

Lottery Scams – Use phone calls, letters, or emails to convince victims that a large fee or taxes must be paid before they can receive lottery winnings. 

Debt Collection Scams – Threaten arrest and jail time if payment for a fake debt is not made immediately. 

Money Mule/Money Laundering Scams – Convince victims to use their bank accounts to quickly move funds in and out of those accounts thereby laundering ill-gotten funds. 

Timeshare Scams – Target timeshare owners with false promises of resale and exit from their timeshares for a fee. 

Sham Business Opportunities – Convince victims to invest in lucrative business opportunities or fake investments. 

 

Here are some tips on how to avoid falling victim to a financial scam: 

• Don’t share personal or financial information with anyone you don’t know. 

• If the person asking the information claims to be a relative, a friend, someone you know, or a representative of a financial institution or government agency, do not respond right away. Instead, contact the person/entity independently or ask a trusted family member or friend for help. 

• Don’t pay a fee for a prize or lottery winning. 

• Don’t click on pop-up ads, messages, or virus warnings. 

• Delete phishing emails and ignore harassing phone calls. 

• Don’t send gift cards, checks, money orders, wire money, or give your bank account information to a stranger or someone who claims to be a relative without verification. 

• Don’t fall for a high-pressure sales pitch or lucrative business deals. 

• If you suspect fraud, take the time to talk to a trusted friend or family member. 

• It’s not rude to say, “NO.” 

• Keep in mind that if you send money once, you’ll be a target for life. 

• A good rule of thumb is, if it’s too good to be true, it’s likely a scam. 

• And remember, there is no shame in falling prey to an online scammer. These are professional criminals that use tried-and-true tactics to perpetrate fraud. 

 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office urges the public to report suspected elder fraud by calling the Justice Department’s Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311) or visiting the Elder Justice Initiative at Justice.gov/elderjustice for additional information and resources. 

If other communities or organizations in Vermont are interested in having the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partners provide information and training specific to elder fraud, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 802-651-8298.

Source: 6.7.2024. Burlington, Vermont – U.S. Attorney’s Office

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