DOJ, major banks meet to address elder financial abuse

In this photo taken June 19, 2015, the Justice Department Building in Washington. A federal government contractor has been accused of removing highly classified information and storing the material in his house and car, federal prosecutors announced

Attorney General William Barr met with the general counsel of several major banks on Friday to address elder financial exploitation – a type of abuse in which older Americans lose money to fraud.

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The meeting centered around what financial institutions can do to slow the growing problem; according to a Department of Justice news release, the banks agreed to “better collaborate” to apply successful programs and protocols to identify and prevent international criminals from targeting American seniors.

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“The financial industry and the Department agreed to continue communication and increase collaboration efforts in order to fight this critically important issue ensnaring the most vulnerable in our society,” the DOJ said.

It’s unclear which banks were involved in the meeting. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a FOX Business request for comment.

Stopping elder fraud has become a top priority for the DOJ; only one in 44 cases is reported. When the elderly lose money, it’s likely to be a more significant loss than a younger person. On average, the median loss for someone over the age of 80 is $1,700. The median age for someone between the ages of 20 to 29 is $400.

Barr also announced the establishment of a new joint law enforcement effort -- the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force -- that combines the DOJ’s Consumer Protection branch, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for six federal offices, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

“Fraud against the elderly is on the rise,” Barr said. “One of the most significant and pernicious causes for this increase is foreign-based fraud schemes.”

The news comes on the heels of a report, conducted and published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that found nursing homes failed to report about one in five potential cases of abuse of elders on Medicare to the appropriate state inspection agencies.

Federal investigators determined that health workers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, routinely don't report possible incidents of abuse or neglect to local law enforcement and other agencies to be tracked and recorded, in accordance with federal requirements.

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However, a CMS spokesperson told FOX Business that the federal agency -- a part of the Department of Health and Human Services -- requires nursing homes to report allegations of abuse, neglect and mistreatment "promptly" to state survey agencies and other authorities.

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