A collection of cases of fraud or alleged fraud against older adults announced Thursday involves more than 260 defendants from around the world, with losses totaling more than $750 million, topping a similar effort last year to make it the largest such “elder fraud sweep” in history, the Justice Department said.
More than 2 million people were affected by the alleged crimes, according to the department. The sweep counts fraud cases since March 2018, a Justice Department spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living.
Last year’s sweep, announced in February 2018, involved more than 250 defendants from around the world who allegedly stole more than $500 million from more than a million Americans.
“This year’s sweep involves 13 percent more criminal defendants, 28 percent more in losses, and twice the number of fraud victims as last year’s sweep,” Attorney General William P. Barr said.
Every federal district across the country was represented in the sweep through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts, according to the Justice Department. “In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors,” a news release said.
The Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch led the effort, Barr said, and worked with the department’s Criminal Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and other federal, state and local authorities. Among the types of alleged fraud involved were tech support, mass mailings and “money mule” fraud, in which funds were said to be illegally transferred on behalf of others.
In one case highlighted by officials, certified nursing assistant Rosemarie Delatorre, who was the caregiver of an 83-year-old retirement community resident in Maui, is charged with identity theft, theft, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card. She allegedly transferred $41,000 of the woman’s money to herself without permission, and when the woman learned that she would no longer be able to afford living at the retirement community because her account was almost depleted, she committed suicide, according to the Justice Department. Delatorre, a citizen of the United States and the Cayman Islands, was extradited from the Cayman Islands on Oct. 17.
In another case, Sailor Jones was charged with wire fraud for allegedly taking more than $300,000 from a Georgia senior living resident, for whom she cleaned and performed other tasks, in 2016 and 2017. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Consumers can file elder fraud complaints with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime.