Federal officials today announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, with more than 260 defendants around the world accused of stealing from more than two million Americans, most of them elderly.
The busts today included tech-support scams, mass-mailing scams, and scams involving fake loans, fake sweepstakes prizes, fake prescription discount cards; the “grandparent” scam involving a fake relative in distress call; and fake outstanding debt calls.
All of the scams involved someone calling victims on the telephone and lying to them in an attempt to steal money. It’s important to remember that no government agency will ever call demanding money over the telephone. No utility system will do that either, and if someone calls to tell you you won a sweepstakes you never entered – if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.
For more tips on how to avoid falling victim to scammers, click here.
According to the Department of Justice announcement, action was taken in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at more than $750 million.
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of
Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.