A bipartisan push is underway to add financial relief to elderly victims of scams related to the coronavirus pandemic to the next federal COVID-19 relief bill. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, along with almost all other state and territorial attorneys general, signed a letter under the sponsorship of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to congressional leadership urging them to add “Edith’s Bill” to the larger coronavirus relief legislation package when passed.
We recently described in this space current threats facing elders and other vulnerable people from criminals seeking to fraudulently obtain Medicare numbers and other personally identifiable information in a variety of scams related to COVID-19.
What is Edith’s Bill?
The Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act has been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. As of this writing on Sept. 16, 2020, it is in review by the Judiciary Committee of both bodies. Edith Shorougian and her husband were the victims of financial exploitation by a longtime friend and financial adviser – a scam in which they lost $80,000.
Edith’s Bill would amend the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to include senior victims of financial fraud with those eligible for reimbursement for their losses from the Crime Victims Fund, which is funded by penalties and fees paid to the government by convicted scammers. Participating state governments reimburse their victimized elderly residents, and the fund then reimburses the states.
Currently, many victims of financial elder abuse never see the money again, and this bill would help to remedy that, especially in a time of COVID-19 fraud.