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U.S. Attorney’s Office for Virgin Islands District Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

U.S Attorney Office recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. (Shutterstock image)

Delia L. Smith, United States Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands, joined national, state, local, and Tribal leaders Monday in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

Since 2006, WEAAD has been commemorated to promote awareness and increase understanding of the many forms of elder abuse and the resources available to those at risk. Highlighting the partnership between law enforcement and the public, Smith emphasized the importance of awareness and education. “My office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting those who abuse the elderly, including by financial exploitation.”

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, according to the V.I. Justice Department.

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, according to the press release.

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 goodwill 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 recognize and avoid participation in perpetuating fraud, the press release stated.

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 report suspicious activity to request that the victims provide their Social Security numbers 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, the release stated.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of the Virgin Islands continues to work with
federal and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes, it said.

To learn more about the department’s elder justice efforts, please visit the Elder Justice Initiative website. 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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