South Dakota takes part in wide-ranging efforts to protect seniors

Federal judge described such scams “heartbreakingly evil”
SCAM ALERT
SCAM ALERT(WGCL)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:26 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - As part of the extensive efforts to protect seniors from fraud and exploitation, the Justice Department along with its law enforcement partners tackled matters that ranged from mass-marketing scams to phone scams over the past year. Substantial efforts were also made to return money to fraud victims. Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force of the Department is now expanding to increase efforts to combat scams originating overseas, according to a release from DOJ.

“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 past year, the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted and civilly pursued various cases in which older Americans were targeted. As part of the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office’s elder fraud efforts, it engages in outreach to the community and industry to raise awareness about scams and exploitation and preventing victimization.

“Crimes that target older Americans are among the most deplorable. We take very seriously any allegations that older South Dakotans have been targeted. These crimes take many forms, often through mass-marketing scams, lottery schemes, or other false claims designed to gain access to financial accounts,” South Dakota U.S. Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell said. “Our office, in conjunction with our partner investigating agencies, is committed to finding these criminals and bringing them to justice.”

During the past year, Department personnel and its law enforcement partners pursued approximately 260 cases involving more than 600 defendants across the nation, both bringing new cases and advancing those previously charged. The Department has pursued cases against the perpetrators of “grandparent scams,” otherwise known as “person-in-need scams.” These scams typically begin when a fraudster, often based overseas, contacts an older adult and poses as either a grandchild, other family member, or someone calling on behalf of a family member. Call recipients are told that their family member is in jeopardy and is urgently in need of money.

When recently sentencing one of eight perpetrators of a grandparent scam indicted under the racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations Act, a federal judge described such scams “heartbreakingly evil.” The Department is working with government partners and others to raise awareness about these schemes.