According to the latest numbers from the Federal Trade Commission, 26 percent of all securities fraud is perpetrated against seniors, but seniors only represent 14 percent of the nation’s population.
“They obviously attract the attention of criminals, and we’ve got to make sure that we take every step necessary to give seniors and their families as much protection as possible,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who is trying to react by introducing legislation that would increase fines for securities fraud involving seniors while asking the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review its guidelines for such crimes.
“They’re (the commission) an entity created by the Congress and obviously this is an act of Congress, and I think that will carry significant weight,” Casey said.
The measure specifically would add an additional fine of $50,000 dollars for fraud perpetrated against those who are 62 or older. The current fines run from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the type of fraud and if it was perpetrated by an individual or a business.
In announcing the Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act, Casey cited a Met Life study that found such fraud costs seniors $2.9 billion in 2011, which was a 12 percent increase from 2008.
“This has all the hallmarks of a bipartisan bill,” said Casey, who thinks he will be able to gain passage of the measure.
The legislation would build upon fraud laws enacted in the 1930s and '40s, but Casey feels the estimated $18 trillion in assets currently held by seniors are at more risk now than ever before thanks to new technologies available to scam artists.