Mississippi News

Joyner promotes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Mississippi

Clay Joyner, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, joined national, state, local, and Tribal leaders in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Saturday, June 15. Since 2006, WEAAD has been commemorated to promote awareness and increase understanding of the many forms of elder abuse as well as the resources available to those at risk.

Highlighting the partnership between law enforcement and the public, Joyner emphasized the importance of awareness and education.

“Protecting the elderly from abuse is a priority of the Department of Justice and the Northern District of Mississippi. Fraudsters and scammers can have a devastating impact on the lives of elderly Americans at a time when they should be enjoying their retirement” Joyner said. “The first line of defense is awareness about the most common schemes that are being committed. We have seen a large increase in scammers and fraudsters posing as local or federal law enforcement officers or agents and demanding payment to avoid arrest or a warrant being issued” for the victim. Typically, in these scams, the victim is told not to hang up and to not tell anyone about what is being discussed. The fraudster will then ask for payment in the form of a prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, gold, or gift card. “The United States will never demand immediate payment in any of these forms from anyone. These scams should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement,” Joyner said.

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. 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.

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 good will 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 to recognize and avoid participation in perpetuating fraud.

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 number 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.

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

The Northern District of Mississippi continues to work with federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute elder abuse crimes.

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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