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Long IslandCrime

Feds announce task force to stop scams targeting elderly

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said "one of the most pernicious causes" is foreign-based fraud schemes.  Credit: AP/Mark Thiessen

Federal prosecutors on Long Island will join other law enforcement agencies to combat the "scourge" of foreign-based scams that disproportionately affect the elderly, officials announced Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will use analytical tools and "sophisticated investigative approaches" to dig out and prosecute those responsible for an alarming jump in victims of con games in telemarketing, foreign lotteries, mass mailing and other schemes. Six U.S. Attorney offices, including the Eastern District, which covers Long Island, will partner with the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. postal inspectors and foreign law enforcement agencies, officials said. 

“One of the most significant and pernicious causes for this increase is foreign-based fraud schemes." Barr said in a news release. "The new Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will bring together the expertise and resources of our prosecutors, federal and international law enforcement partners and other government agencies to better target, investigate, and prosecute criminals abroad who prey on our elderly at home."

Barr's announcement acknowledged Saturday as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Already, each U.S. Attorney's office has an "Elder Justice Coordinator."

“Schemes that target elderly and vulnerable victims are unconscionable,” Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, said in the news release.

This year on Long Island, local law enforcement officials have held news conferences to warn against scams, such as strangers demanding cash to bail out family members who were purportedly arrested. 

More information about the Department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at or at 877-382-4357.


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