(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill is urging Congress to pass legislation known as Edith’s Bill, designed to assist seniors victimized by fraud, as part of the nation’s efforts to provide relief to those most impacted by COVID-19.
This bipartisan legislation would amend the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to include victims of senior fraud as eligible for reimbursement through the Crime Victims Fund in states that provide compensation to victims. Indiana is one of those states.
Realizing that seniors are especially at risk from COVID-19, scam artists are targeting older people who are isolated at home, separated from families and detached from typical support networks.
“Scammers are well known to prey especially upon our older citizens,” Attorney General Hill said. “We must work together across local, state and federal jurisdictions to do everything possible to protect seniors from criminal predators. Further, we must also do our best to make seniors whole when they do fall victim to these unsavory schemes.”
Attorney General Hill is one of 44 attorneys general to sign a letter to congressional leaders advocating for the legislation. The bipartisan coalition is led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat.
Edith’s Bill — or the Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act — would also amend VOCA so that penalties and fines from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements are deposited into the Crime Victims Fund. This bill is named after a Wisconsin woman who was scammed out of more than $80,000 in retirement savings.
Across all states, there has been a surge in COVID-19 scams targeting vulnerable seniors. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has warned that fraudsters “are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information.” This is just one of many COVID-19 scams targeting seniors.
Even after the pandemic, fraudsters will continue focusing their schemes on seniors. By using this legislation to add senior fraud as an eligible reimbursement expense under VOCA, states can help victims obtain the financial relief they deserve. States would be incentivized but not mandated by this legislation to provide compensation to victims of senior fraud.
A copy of the letter is attached.