Grant Opportunity: Elder Fraud Community Education and Prevention

Here at CaseCracker, we don’t just make products for law enforcement—we are committed to staying on top of the issues impacting law enforcement, too. Familiarizing ourselves with the ever-changing criminal landscape is not only fascinating, but imperative to bringing the best possible products to market that make your job easier and our communities safer. To that end, we attend a variety of panels, summits, and conferences that cover hot topics in the law enforcement world. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on elder fraud hosted by our local FBI field office. As the general manager at Cardinal Peak Technologies, and as someone concerned with the safety of my aging parents, I found it enlightening in both my professional and personal lives. In fact, the topic inspired me so much that I wrote a letter to my mom.

The panel featured a wide variety of representation, including speakers from the U.S. Securities and Trade Commission (SEC), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Such a diverse panel provided an in-depth look at the inventive scams these fraudsters are perpetrating and the revelation that the Special Agent in Charge’s own parents were victims of elder fraud really underscored how no one is safe from this type of crime.

Though the panel discussed a great number of scams, one, in particular, stood out to me as a very tangible risk to my own family. As someone who frequently travels to remote locations both here and abroad, one of my biggest fears is someone tricking my mother into thinking that I’ve been kidnapped and held for ransom. Learning how these criminals use the information found on social media to make their claims more believable was particularly alarming. It also served as an important reminder of just how careful we need to be about the information we share on the internet—no matter how innocuous it may seem.

Another reason these types of crimes are especially scary to a civilian like me is how faceless and elusive their perpetrators can be, as many can hide behind smartphones and computers. It also feels like a tricky topic to bring up with one’s parents, as no one wants to be made to feel old, frail, or gullible. Feeling foolish can also make it difficult for a victim to come forward, further preventing these criminals from being caught and brought to justice.

Since this is such an important topic—and one that could certainly use more community outreach and education—the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, is currently seeking applications “to provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies to more effectively identify elder fraud victims, allowing law enforcement both to bring the fraudsters to justice and to connect those victims with available services. OVC intends to accomplish this goal by creating training that is relevant to both large and small jurisdictions in both urban and rural communities.” Non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education are also eligible to apply for this grant, and information on how to apply can be found here. All applications are due midnight eastern time on May 11, 2020.

We’d love to hear about how your department is tackling elder fraud in your community. How are you working to catch these kinds of criminals? How are you educating the public on how they can protect themselves and their families from these threats? What kind of tools would your agency find useful? Let us know in the comments below!

—Tonya Clement, Cardinal Peak Technologies General Manager