The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Northern District of Alabama released a statement Wednesday to raise awareness of elder abuse.
U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and FBI special agent in charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. said they are committed to protecting older adults by raising awareness of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in the Northern District of Alabama.
“Unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable among us, our senior citizens, are a prime target of elder abuse, in all its forms,” Escalona said. “It is important that we inform and educate our older population about the scams that target them. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to prosecute those who prey on senior citizens in the Northern District of Alabama.”
Each year, June 15 is recognized as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the abuse, neglect, and fraud schemes committed against older Americans.
Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year. In 2021, over 1,100 Alabama seniors reported being victims of elder fraud with losses of over $17 million.
“Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite,” Sharp said. “They also usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers. I want to encourage all seniors and their caregivers to remain vigilant and educate yourself on the most prolific scams. Finally, if any person believes they are the victim of, or have knowledge of fraud involving an elderly person, regardless of the loss amount, they should immediately report it to the FBI.”
Some of the most common scams targeting older Americans include:
- Romance scam: Criminals pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites in order to obtain money from the victim.
- Tech support scam: Criminals pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues, such as computer viruses or hacked accounts.
- Grandparent Scam: Criminals pose as a relative, usually a child or grandchild, claiming to be in immediate financial need.
- Governmental impersonation scam: Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to pay.
These tips could help you or someone you know from becoming a victim:
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals create a sense of urgency to instill fear and the need for immediate action.
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door service offers
- Never provide any personally identifiable information.
- Never wire money to persons or businesses you have only met online. Verify any email request for money
- Do not open emails or click on attachments or links you do not recognize or were not expecting.
- Research online and social media advertisements before purchase to determine if a product or company is legitimate.
- Stop communication with the perpetrator, but expect that the criminal will continue to attempt contact.
The U.S. attorney’s office has prosecuted and continues to prosecute elder abuse cases in the Northern District of Alabama. Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Crosby is the district’s Elder Justice Coordinator. She is responsible for prosecuting elder abuse cases, conducting public outreach and awareness activities related to elder abuse, serving as legal counsel for the district on matters relating to elder abuse, and ensuring collection of data required by the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act.
For elder abuse resources in the State of Alabama visit – https://go.usa.gov/xJTQG. To learn more about the ways you can assist in our efforts to prevent fraud, neglect, and abuse of elders visit www.elderjustice.gov.
If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact the FBI Birmingham Field Office at 205.326.6166. You can also contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311 or file a complaint FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center – www.ic3.gov.