OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today sent a letter to congressional leadership, urging both chambers to amend the 1984 Victims of Crime Act to include senior citizens victimized by fraud as eligible for reimbursement by the Crime Victims Fund.
Reimbursements distributed from the Crime Victims Fund are typically reserved for victims of violent crime, not financial or white-collar crimes.
Edith’s Bill, or the Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act, would direct penalties and fines from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the Crime Victims Fund, and the money would be used to compensate seniors who are victimized by fraud.
The legislation is named after a Wisconsin senior who was conned out of more than $80,000 by her longtime financial adviser.
Attorney General Hunter said Edith’s Bill protects defrauded seniors without using taxpayer funds.
“This legislation ensures senior citizens are protected if they are taken advantage of financially by a criminal,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Especially now, with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, these are individuals who may be disconnected from their support system, making them easier targets for criminals. We must make sure we are protecting our most vulnerable from these awful crimes, and making every effort to make them whole if they have been victimized. My colleagues and I encourage Congress to act on this important legislation.”
Last year the Consumer Protection Unit in the Attorney General’s Office filed felony charges in 24 cases, a record for the unit. Sixteen of those cases involved a senior citizen. In cases only involving senior citizens, the unit secured over $370,000 in tentative restitution.
Also, in 2019, the Consumer Protection Unit hosted or participated in 38 events to inform citizens across the state about scams. The events also discussed organizations that offer support and resources specific to seniors.
In addition to Oklahoma, 43 other state attorneys general signed the letter.
Read the letter, here.