By Jeffrey May, J.D.
Federal legislation intended to tackle fraud against seniors is headed for the President’s desk. The House of Representatives has approved the "Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017," which was approved by the Senate in August. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had been working on the bi-partisan proposal (S.178) since 2016. It incorporates other measures that failed to make their way through past sessions of Congress.
The measure would require the FTC to establish a new position within the Bureau of Consumer Protection, known as the Elder Justice Coordinator. The coordinator would be responsible for coordinating and supporting the enforcement and consumer education efforts and policy activities of the agency on elder justice issues. In addition, that individual would serve as a point of contact for related enforcement and consumer education efforts. The bill also would call for the creation of an Elder Justice Coordinator post for the entire Department of Justice and for the designation of at least one assistant U.S. attorney as an Elder Justice Coordinator in each federal judicial district to handle criminal matters.
The FTC and the Department of Justice would be expected to report to Congress annually on enforcement efforts involving a financial scheme or scam that was either targeted directly toward or largely affected elders.
The legislation would expand the current prohibition on telemarketing fraud under the federal criminal code to include fraud conducted over e-mail. Mandatory forfeiture and restitution provisions also are included in the legislation.
"I’m very pleased our bipartisan efforts have paid off and that the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act is bound for the President’s signature," said Grassley. "Our legislation will enhance our nation’s response to these crimes and help families across America by equipping law enforcement, seniors and caregivers with additional training and tools to better deter crimes and hold perpetrators accountable."
"By raising awareness, improving prevention and increasing prosecution, this bipartisan effort will help combat the unconscionable scourge of elder abuse nationwide for years to come," Blumenthal added.
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