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Bipartisan Group of State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Protect Senior Victims of Fraud

Louisiana AG Jeff Landry and Wisconsin AG Josh Kaul Led Coalition to Include Edith’s Bill in Coronavirus Relief Legislation

BATON ROUGE, LA - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul are leading a bipartisan coalition of 44 states in urging Congress to include Edith’s Bill in Coronavirus relief legislation. Their request would amend the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to include victims of senior fraud as eligible for reimbursement by the Crime Victims Fund for states that provide compensation to victims.

“Scam artists know that seniors are especially at risk from COVID-19, and these criminals are despicably targeting our elderly who are isolated at home or separated from their families and support networks,” said AG Landry. “Our elected officials in Washington should recognize this public safety crisis and cast aside partisan politics to deliver for our seniors, especially during these perilous times.”

If signed into law, Edith’s Bill - or the Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act (S. 3487/H.R. 7620) - would amend VOCA so that penalties and fines from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements (including white collar criminal conduct against seniors) are deposited into the Crime Victims Fund. The bill is being led by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D, WI) and Bill Cassidy (R, LA) and of Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D, OR) and Peter King (R, NY), who both co-chair the Elder Justice Caucus.

In a letter to those Congressional leaders, the Landry-Kaul coalition note: 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 unfortunately just one of many COVID-19 scams targeting seniors.

Even after the pandemic, it is widely expected that seniors will continue to be targeted by fraudsters. By using this legislation to add senior fraud as an eligible reimbursement expense under VOCA, Landry and Kaul believe states will be able to help victims receive the financial relief they deserve as states would be incentivized - but not mandated - by this legislation to provide compensation to victims of senior fraud.

Joining Attorneys General Landry and Kaul in the letter are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.