BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — In the past year, the Justice Department has made efforts to take action against scams targeting the elderly and the bad actors behind them.

The department said it has focused on combating mass-marketing scams to those scamming neighbors.

Such scams are described by the department as beginning with a fraudster, often based overseas, who contacts an older adult and poses as either a grandchild, another family member, or someone calling on behalf of a family member. Potential victims are told that their family member is in jeopardy and is urgently in need of money.

“We are intensifying our efforts nationwide to protect older adults, including by more than
tripling the number of U.S. Attorneys’ offices participating in our Transnational Elder Fraud Strike
Force dedicated to disrupting, dismantling and prosecuting foreign-based fraud schemes that target American seniors,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This expansion builds on the
Justice Department’s existing work to hold accountable those who steal funds from older adults,
including by returning those funds to the victims where possible.”

According to the Department of Justice, it’s concentrating on the expansion of the Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force, returning money to victims, and efforts to combat grandparent scams.

A Baton Rouge man convicted of wire fraud was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison over the summer after scamming an elderly veteran out of $50,718. The man, Shawn Phillips, was ordered by the court to pay the victim back, according to the Middle District of Louisiana.

“The protection of older adults from all forms of abuse is among our highest priorities at the Department of Justice. Older adults are targeted by some of the most sophisticated criminals, and it requires the coordinated resources of all law enforcement partners to bring these offenders to justice,” said Middle District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Gathe.

Anyone who has been a victim of financial fraud is urged to call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833 FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).