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Inspectors part of major sweep against elder fraud

Handcuffed hands behind a person's back
Criminal charges have been filed against 250 alleged perpetrators in mailing and other schemes that targeted older customers.

The Postal Inspection Service and other federal agencies announced the largest elder fraud sweep in U.S. history this week, a crackdown that charged more than 250 people who bilked $500 million from older customers.

The fraud schemes, which included mass mailings, victimized more than 1 million people.

“Winners. That’s what so many of the people who received these solicitations in the mail thought they were. But they’re not. They are victims of scams that postal inspectors have seen and investigated for decades. In fact, some of the same operators we encountered 20 years ago are back. But so are we,” said Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell.

The sweep was announced Feb. 22 in Washington, DC, where Cottrell joined Attorney General Jeff Sessions and representatives from other law enforcement agencies.

One day earlier, Cottrell said the Postal Inspection Service executed search warrants at 12 locations where the fraudsters ran their scams.

“We’re letting the American public know — and especially our vulnerable older Americans — that postal inspectors are working hard to protect them and ensure their confidence in the U.S. Mail,” Cottrell said.

The briefing also included Angela Stancik, a Texas woman whose 82-year-old grandmother committed suicide after scammers wiped out her life savings. This case was not part of the operation announced Feb. 22, but officials said the story illustrates the toll elder fraud can take.

“She died with $69 in her bank account,” Stancik said. “She was robbed in every sense.”

The Justice Department’s news release has more information.

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