IRS Highlights Financial Protection for Seniors on Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Atlanta Field Office uses the United Nations’ World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to emphasize safeguarding seniors from financial fraud.

The UN’s theme for this year’s Elder Abuse Awareness Day is “Spotlight on Older Persons in Emergencies,” which focuses on the vulnerabilities of older individuals during crises such as natural disasters, pandemics, or conflicts.

“All of us must protect the most vulnerable in our society from financial elder abuse, especially during and after emergencies such as hurricanes, fires, and other environmental events,” said Atlanta Field Office Special Agent In Charge Demetrius Hardeman. “CI special agents, along with our law enforcement partners and DOJ prosecutors, are working diligently to hold those who financially harm the elderly accountable.”

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Seniors often become targets of financial scams following disasters, falling prey to fraudulent contractors and con artists who exploit their circumstances without completing the promised work.

“The elderly can also be victimized by individuals falsely claiming disaster aid on their behalf, only to keep the money for themselves,” Hardeman added. “It is crucial for caregivers to monitor the financial situation of elderly persons, regardless of whether there is a disaster.”

Highlighting the importance of vigilance, Hardeman cited a recent case where Karen Farrell Tigler of Marrero, Louisiana, was sentenced in February 2023 to 27 months in prison for bank fraud and subscribing to false tax returns. As a bank teller, Tigler embezzled approximately $349,556 from an elderly client’s account using 100 counter checks.

“A family member confronted Tigler about the withdrawals from the account,” Hardeman said. “Tigler’s case underscores the necessity for caregivers to oversee the finances of elderly individuals who may not be able to do so themselves.”

Numerous resources are available to assist older people and their caregivers prevent financial fraud. The Federal Trade Commission offers the “Pass it On” program, which provides fraud prevention resources for seniors. Additionally, the Department of Justice has established the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311 for victims of financial fraud.