The Department of Justice awarded grants totaling $9.4 million to combat elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors across the United States.
Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. Attorney General William Barr announced the awards on the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons.
“Predators who target older citizens for fraud, financial scams and physical abuse are particularly despicable, turning the golden years of our nation’s seniors into a period of poverty and suffering,” said Attorney General William Barr. “The Department of Justice is taking aggressive action, pursuing all legal avenues to bring these criminals to justice and supporting law enforcement officials and service providers as they ferret out scam artists, arrest abusers, and bring aid and relief to victims.”
Approximately $7.9 million of the funds were awarded to jurisdiction and service providers in the United States under two of the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime grant programs. It’s National Institute of Justice awarded the remaining $1.4 million for related research projects.
“With lockdowns in place across the country, older adults are especially vulnerable to fraud, neglect and abuse, and criminals have not hesitated to take full advantage,” said Office for Victims of Crime Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine Sullivan. “These grants, which build on previous Department of Justice investments, will help to turn the tide of deception and predation and restore victims to fiscal security and physical safety.”
Under the direction of Attorney General Barr, the Department of Justice is attacking elder fraud and abuse from all sides. A National Elder Justice Coordinator oversees the department’s work to combat elder fraud, and each of the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices has a prosecutor dedicated to addressing elder justice issues. This past March, the Attorney General announced the results of the largest elder fraud sweep ever conducted, with prosecutors charging more than 400 defendants and the charged elder fraud schemes causing alleged losses of over a billion dollars. Also in March, he launched a national initiative to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care and a National Elder Fraud Hotline managed by the Office for Victims of Crime.
Fiscal Year 2020 grants awarded by Office for Victims of Crime and National Institute of Justice further the department’s mission and priorities by funding direct victim services and research projects that enhance the field’s response to victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation. Specific programs being funded include the following:
The Office for Victims of Crime’s Enhancing Services for Older Victims of Abuse and Financial Exploitation program awards nearly $6 million to 12 organizations to support communities in providing services to older victims of abuse and exploitation using trauma-informed approaches that protect the safety and confidentiality of victims.
The Training for Law Enforcement to Improve Identification of and Response to Elder Fraud Victims program (previously announced) was awarded over $1.9 million to provide training and technical assistance to enhance law enforcement’s ability to identify elder fraud victims, connect those victims with available services, and bring the fraudsters to justice.
National Institute of Justice’s Research on the Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Elderly Individuals program awarded over $1.4 million to two recipients to fund research projects to, respectively, better differentiate physical abuse of elderly individuals from accidental injury and to improve the reporting of elder abuse.