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Casey Holds Aging Committee Hearing Examining COVID-19’s Effect on Frauds and Scams Targeting Older Americans

Since January 2020, adults 60 years and older reported nearly 26,000 pandemic-related scams & lost a total of over $141.2 million

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing entitled, “Frauds, Scams and COVID-19: How Con Artists Have Targeted Older Americans During the Pandemic.” The hearing examined how the coronavirus pandemic created new opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage of older Americans, both through the proliferation of scams generally and the rise of COVID-specific scams. Chairman Casey highlighted his bipartisan Stop Senior Scams Act, which would establish a federal advisory group tasked with preventing scams on older Americans. Chairman Casey also released the 2021 Fraud Book, a compendium of reports to the Aging Committee’s fraud hotline.

“Due to the pandemic, many seniors isolated themselves in an effort to avoid contracting the virus, but in the process were cut off from friends and family. This made them more vulnerable to fraudsters, who preyed on the fear and uncertainty surrounding the disease, as well as the loneliness and isolation that resulted from the pandemic. This is why I reintroduced the Stop Senior Scams Act, which would ensure banks and other businesses have the information and tools they need to train employees to spot and speak up about possible senior scams. In addition, the Aging Committee’s annual Fraud Book provides helpful tips on how older Americans can avoid being scammed. It is critical that we pass this legislation and bolster resources to prevent more older Americans from losing their hard-earned savings to scams and fraud,” said Chairman Casey.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports the total monetary losses associated with the increase in number of fraud complaints by adults ages 60 and older from 2019 to 2020 increased from $446 million in 2019 to $602 million in 2020.

The Aging Committee operates a toll-free fraud hotline (1-855-303-9470), which serves as a resource for older Americans and their family members to report suspicious activities and provide information on reporting frauds and scams to the proper officials, including law enforcement. The hotline is staffed Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. The Fraud Book includes content on the top five most reported scams since 2015. These include:

  1. Government Imposter Scams;
  2. Sweepstakes Scams;
  3. Illegal Robocalls;
  4. Computer Scams; and
  5. Grandparent Scams.

The Fraud Book also includes recommendations and resources that seniors can use to protect themselves against fraud, scams and financial exploitation.

Chairman Casey invited Pennsylvania resident Kate Kleinert as a witness, who testified about her experience as the survivor of a scam. About the person who took $39,000 from her she said, “I have since come to find out that all these pictures [the scammer] sent me of himself were actually of a doctor in Spain. I tried to report this to the police but could not get anyone to listen to me. I also called AARP’s fraud number that I found in their magazine, and got a retired detective who was supportive and encouraged me to share my story. But I have been frustrated at the lack of options to recover the money I’ve lost or the ability to hold him responsible for these damages. But even though this experience is painful to speak about, I want to be an ambassador to this experience because it’s so devastating and many people have been through this but not spoken about it.”

See the 2021 Fraud Book here.

Read more about the Stop Senior Scams Act here.