Criminals who prey on some of the most vulnerable Iowans are the subject of a Congressional hearing Wednesday in Washington D.C.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’ll preside over a Judiciary Committee hearing on how best to protect older Americans from financial exploitation. “The problem is growing as our population ages,” Grassley says. “Studies vary, but the annual financial loss by victims of this exploitation is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion, that would be the least, and 36 billion at the most.”
Two Iowans are scheduled to testify at the (9 AM/Central) hearing before the Senate panel: Donna Harvey, director of the Iowa Department on Aging, and Karla Sibert of Palo, the daughter of elderly victims of financial exploitation.
“The problem is growing rapidly because scammers innovate to ensnare more victims and evade law enforcement,” Grassley says. “The crime is often underreported so available information might greatly underestimate the impact on older Americans.” They include so-called “sweetheart scams,” where isolated elderly people are pressed for money by thieves who pretend to befriend them.
Grassley says, “These also include grandparent scams where fraudsters present themselves to senior citizens as a grandchild in distress in hopes of convincing that grandparent to send cash or give out credit card numbers.”
Grassley is crafting legislation that would target elder abuse. He says the bill will promote more effective interagency coordination, training to improve the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse, victims’ assistance, and tougher penalties for scam artists. Grassley says financial exploitation is the most widespread form of elder abuse.