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Vt. AG urges Congress to counteract fraud against elderly

By Bryan Cohen | May 17, 2013

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) -- Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell joined U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Thursday in urging Congress to take necessary steps to battle elder fraud.

Sorrell testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce, which was convened to review the government's current efforts to detect financial scams used on seniors. The hearing also assessed the effectiveness of preventative measures.

Sorrell warned of the large number of elder scams in Vermont and throughout the country.

In fact, the Attorney General's Office said it has received two reports of elder fraud in the past 10 days.

In one instance, an 83-year-old man lost $8,000 to an investment scam. In the other, a 79-year-old woman lost $29,000 in wire transfers to a romance scammer in Ghana.

"The states and the federal government are necessary partners in the noble cause of protecting the most vulnerable among us from fraud, most especially our senior citizens," Sorrell said in a statement. "Together, we can, and should, work toward the development of evidence-based strategies to change consumer behavior to be more self-protective; to create networks of contacts, materials and protocols for use throughout the country; and to diminish the use of high-risk wire transfers as an easy way for scammers to take grave advantage of the elderly."

Sorrell told the subcommittee that his office is working to find solutions to the problem of elder fraud along with the banking community, AARP and federal, state and local law enforcement.

The attorney general is the chair of the Vermont Working Group on Protecting Older Consumers.

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