WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 250 people were charged in a major U.S. crackdown on elder fraud scams that victimized over 1 million people and led to $500 million in losses, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.
The scams included the use of mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds as well as identity theft and theft by guardians, the department said in a statement announcing the criminal and civil charges.
Some of the schemes included scams where people were falsely told they had won a lottery but had to pre-pay a fee or taxes, while in other scams a senior was told a grandchild had been arrested and needed money for bail, the department said.
Globally, 200 defendants were charged criminally and another 50 face civil or other charges, the department said.
“Today is only the beginning. I have directed department prosecutors to coordinate with both domestic law enforcement partners and foreign counterparts to stop these criminals from exploiting our seniors,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
The sweep was carried out by the Justice Department, FBI, Federal Trade Commission and the Iowa and Kansas attorneys general, among others.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Paul Simao