The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have partnered with American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to educate senior citizens in Massachusetts about COVID-19 scams and other fraud targeting the aging population.
Through AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, approximately 5,600 Massachusetts seniors participated in the hour-long tele-town hall event yesterday with U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. During the tele-town hall, federal officials discussed the types of schemes currently being reported, provided tips and tools on how to avoid becoming a victim and answered callers’ questions.
“As communities undertake efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, scammers are using the pandemic as an opportunity to prey on public fear and take advantage of vulnerable members of our communities,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Over recent months, we’ve seen a surge of scams including counterfeit medical supplies, bogus treatments and fake vaccines, and scams attempting to gain access to personal financial information. We are committed to finding and prosecuting those who perpetrate these scams as well as educating individuals about how to protect themselves from becoming victims of crime.”
“Scammers targeting seniors are a growing concern here in Massachusetts. Last year alone, more than $11.2 million in losses were reported to us by elderly victims, and we know for a fact these crimes are grossly underreported because of shame and embarrassment,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Fraudsters are using the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage and that’s why we need to work together to put them out of business for good. Educating ourselves, as well as our aging family members and friends through tele-town halls like this one, is crucial to avoid becoming a victim.”
Throughout the current health crisis, federal investigators and prosecutors have continued to fulfill the Justice Department’s critical mission of protecting public safety. Federal authorities have prioritized the disruption, investigation and prosecution of crimes related to COVID-19, including fraud schemes, unapproved treatments and scams related to stimulus money and unemployment. Massachusetts residents who believe they are victims of fraud or other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at [email protected] or call 1-888-221-6023. Members of the public can also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, please call 911.