What do AARP Alaska, the FBI, and DOJ have in common?

Posted on 06/06/24

A mother and grandmother in qaspuks stand with their two young boys.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Combating Financial Exploitation

Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and worldwide. This day is a powerful reminder of the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Among the many forms of elder abuse, financial abuse occurs when someone misuses or manipulates an older person’s financial resources for personal gain. Financial exploitation has devastating consequences for older adults. It erodes their financial security, jeopardizes their well-being, and undermines their trust in others.

According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) annual Elder Fraud Report, nearly 300 Alaskans aged 60+ reported losses in 2023, totaling $8.7 million last year. And that startling statistic is likely an underestimate, due to the number of financial crimes that go unreported because of the victim’s reticence to admit the loss.

Cracking down on financial crimes is a priority for the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is dedicated to working with law enforcement partners, like the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Secret Service to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who target Alaskans through fraud schemes.

It's critical that seniors – as well as their caregivers and family members – know and recognize the signs of financial scams. In 2023, the top schemes impacting Alaska seniors were investment scams, romance scams, and business email compromise. For more information on these and other types of fraud, AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is a great resource for prevention, education and reporting.

Fraud cases, especially those involving the internet, are incredibly complex and can take years to develop and prosecute. In Alaska, we have teams of dedicated law enforcement and prosecutors looking into these complicated schemes to help bring justice against perpetrators and prevent these crimes in the first instance for the best line of defense.

Though the schemes surface in a variety of different forms, most fraud schemes include some of the same red flags. Here are four signs to watch for: scammers pretending to be from an official organization or someone you know; phone calls, texts or emails saying there is a problem or a prize; pressure to act or pay immediately; and specific instructions on sending a payment or providing personal information.

AARP, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office continue to combat the financial exploitation of senior Alaskans by identifying and prosecuting perpetrators and supporting victims. If you believe you are a victim of fraud or know a senior who may be, the FBI encourages victims to report suspected internet crimes to the IC3. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360) is a free resource for AARP members and nonmembers alike. Trained fraud specialists and volunteers field thousands of calls each month, providing trustworthy and judgment-free guidance.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and throughout the month of June, let’s stand together to protect our seniors. By understanding the signs, educating others, and taking action, we can create a safer environment for older adults.

This story is provided by AARP Alaska. Visit the AARP Alaska page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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