ICN Community News
Indiana Central News
Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana
Department of Justice
INDIANAPOLIS – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler joined Attorney General William P. Barr and the entire Department of Justice in observing the 15th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Department echoes voices around the world condemning elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our country and the world, but among those most severely affected by the threat of the novel virus are our senior citizens. During this time when seniors are most vulnerable and isolated from their families and loved ones by social distancing and quarantine restrictions, bad actors have immediately exploited this international tragedy to prey on the elderly through a whole host of scam and fraud schemes. As the world takes this day to remember the elderly during these uncertain times, the Department of Justice remains relentlessly committed, through its department-wide Elder Justice Initiative, to prevent and prosecute fraud on America’s seniors.
“My office recognizes that our Hoosier seniors are such a vital part of our society, but are some of the most vulnerable.” said Minkler. “The Southern District of Indiana has made it a priority to seek out individuals and criminal organizations that prey on the elderly.”
Earlier this year Attorney General Barr declared “Prevention and Disruption of Transnational Elder Fraud” to be an Agency Priority Goal, making it one of the Department’s four top priorities.
Major strides have already been made to that end:
· National Elder Fraud Hotline: 833-FRAUD-11
Earlier this year Attorney General Barr launched a National Elder Fraud Hotline. Staffed by experienced case managers who provide personalized support to callers, the hotline serves to assist elders and caretakers who believe they have been a victim of fraud by reporting and providing appropriate services.
· Annual Elder Justice Sweep: In March of this year, the Attorney General announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in department history. The Department, together with every U.S. Attorney’s office, charged more than 400 defendants, causing over $1 billion in loss through fraud schemes that largely affected seniors, 4 of which were in the Southern District of Indiana.
· Money Mule Initiative: Since October 2018, the Department and its law enforcement partners began a concentrated effort across the country and around the world to disrupt, investigate, and prosecute money mule activity used to facilitate fraud schemes, especially those victimizing senior citizens. In 2019 actions were taken to halt the conduct of more than 600 domestic money mules, exceeding a similar effort against approximately 400 mules in the previous year. The Southern District of Indiana has disrupted over a dozen money mules involved with fraudulent scams targeting the elderly.
· Holding foreign-based perpetrators and those that flee the United States accountable: Transnational criminal organizations are targeting our elder population in schemes including mass mailing fraud, grandparent scams, romance scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams, IRS and Social Security Administration imposter scams, and technical-support scams. As a result of renewed focus on identifying and dismantling such transnational criminal organizations, the Southern District of Indiana successfully extradited and prosecuted an individual from Jamaica for perpetrating a lottery fraud scam against the elderly, and who used money mules to funnel the proceeds of the fraud back to Jamaica.
Department of Justice
INDIANAPOLIS – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler is asking anyone who has witnessed or experienced harassment or discrimination as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to report such allegations to the Civil Rights Coordinator in his office, or to the Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency has impacted many vulnerable community members, including persons with disabilities, persons with limited English proficiency, service members, and other persons protected by our nation’s civil rights laws because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. COVID-19 has particularly impacted individuals in their ability to pay their rent, increasing housing insecurity. It is a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) for housing providers, including landlords, and managers, to exploit this crisis by sexually harassing tenants in exchange for rent or other housing needs.
“Enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws is one of the top priorities in my office.” said Minkler. “We must remain vigilant and work together in this area, especially during this public health crisis. COVID-19 has affected all races, religions, ethnicities, and those with disabilities. Please help us address any suspected discrimination, as we enforce the laws that prohibit such behavior.”
The Department of Justice has filed lawsuits across the country where a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing is alleged. Investigations frequently uncover sexual harassment that has been ongoing for years. Many individuals do not know that being sexually harassed by a housing provider can violate federal law or that the Department of Justice may be able to help.
The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. The initiative’s goal is to address sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing.
If you believe you are a victim of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or other protected classes, you can find information about how to file a complaint at https://www.justice.gov/crt/how-file-complaint and https://www.justice.gov/crt/fcs. In addition, resources for disability-related issues are available at https://www.ada.gov, and language access information is available at https://www.lep.gov. Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in housing, or knows someone who has, can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Coordinator, Jeffrey D. Preston, may be reached at 317-226-6333. The Department’s Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C. may be reached at 855-856-1247 (toll free) or 202-514-3827.
© Indiana Central News. All rights reserved. Terre Haute, Indiana
News Writer: Lucy Perry