“Legislation stepping up enforcement and increasing penalties for ‘criminals and con artists who prey on America’s senior citizens’ is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk and Sen. Chuck Grassley is hoping he signs it ‘as soon as possible.’”
The (Cedar Rapids IA) Gazette’s recent article, “Grassley elder abuse legislation awaits Trump's signature,” says that one of the main reasons for the legislation is the case of a Cedar Rapids couple who spent more than $40,000 buying nutrition-related supplements of dubious value. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the legislation would increase penalties and improve coordination at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission.
“Exploiting and defrauding seniors is cowardly, and these crimes should be addressed as the reprehensible acts they are,” the 84-year-old Grassley said. Legislation that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman sponsored with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., will send a “clear signal from Congress that combating elder abuse and exploitation should be a top priority for law enforcement.”
The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017 passed the House of Representatives and the Senate by voice vote. One of the challenges of protecting seniors from scams is that technology changes quickly and “criminals are constantly coming up with new scams,” Grassley said. “None of us are completely immune.”
Grassley explained that six million seniors are victims of abuse and exploitation each year. In 2016, Karl and the late Marlene Sibert of Cedar Rapids were among them, spending $44,000 on nutritional supplements over a period of twenty months for health and nutrition-related products, when her mother was hospitalized. Their daughter, Karla Sibert, became aware of the spending and contacted the Iowa Office of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection. She filed a formal complaint. The investigation discovered telemarketers’ handwritten notes indicating that Sibert’s mother had “memory” issues and her father had “dementia,” according to Attorney General Tom Miller. Luckily, in the Sibert’s case, the telemarketer complied with his office’s demand to repay the money the couple spent on the supplements.
Grassley called those who exploit seniors “cowardly” and said those crimes should be prosecuted “as the reprehensible acts they are.” Even though elder exploitation may not be a “prominent or popular issue,” Grassley said it’s “an important kitchen table issue for America’s seniors, families and caregivers.”
The legislation will improve the nation’s response to these crimes, Grassley said, and will help families across America by equipping law enforcement, seniors, and caregivers with better training and tools to deter crimes and hold perpetrators accountable.
Reference: The (Cedar Rapids IA) Gazette (October 5, 2017) “Grassley elder abuse legislation awaits Trump's signature”