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Congressional Review: Republican Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) Signed by President Trump Bearing Fruit In Stopping Scams

On October 18, 2017, Congress Passed The Elder Abuse Prevention And Prosecution Act (EAPPA) Which Was Signed By President Donal Trump.

The goal of the EAPPA is to address financial abuse and exploitation of elders on a national scale.  It is estimated that financial exploitation costs seniors in the U.S. more than $2.9 billion annually (based upon government numbers, but actual amounts are probably 20 to 50 times that number).  The crime is scarcely reported with only one in 44 cases reported to authorities, according to congressional testimony.  The result is that many victims fail to receive the help they need and their abusers go unpunished.  The costs of this crime are often shouldered by the victims’ communities through increased use of government benefits and support so elder abuse prevention is essential to American society.

Scams against the elderly are also bundled under this as well.

Elder financial exploitation covers a broad range of criminal acts perpetrated by individuals and entities, including family members and/or caregivers to strangers.  Financial exploitation includes mail, phone and internet-based scams; abuse of fiduciary powers; healthcare fraud; and theft or use of their property without permission. The EAPPA attempts to approach these crimes with comprehensive data, training, and cooperation.

For an example of how this is being applied look at a recent Money Mule arrest in West Virginia »

The goals of the EAPPA are to:

  1. Improve elder abuse data collection at local, state, and federal levels;
  2. Improve law enforcement training and technical assistance regarding elder abuse;
  3. Provide improved victim assistance to victims of elder abuse;
  4. Improve and support federal prosecution of elder abuse; and
  5. Create enhanced penalties for those who engage in telemarketing and email scams targeting elders.

The EAPPA seeks to improve elder abuse prevention by addressing some of the issues that contribute to the lack of reporting and prosecution.  It addresses the lack of local government and law enforcement training regarding elder abuse crimes; prosecutors’ hesitance in pursuing elder abuse cases; lack of data for government agencies, prosecutors, and law enforcement on elder abuse crimes; and lack of coordination between law enforcement agencies in pursuing elder abuse cases.

The EAPPA expands the federal crime of the use of telephone calls, emails, text messages, or electronic instant messages to solicit, purchase, or participate in schemes that defraud the elderly!

Schemes to defraud targeted by this law include the following scams:

  1. Buy goods or services
  2. Romance scams
  3. Other phone scams
  4. Enter a contest/sweepstake
  5. Give charitable donations, gifts or contributions
  6. Offer/promote Investment
  7. Offer/promote business opportunities or loans
  8. Participation in a fraudulent medical study, research study, or pilot study

The law excludes valid or legitimate solicitation through posting, publication or mailing of a catalog/brochure.

Pursuant to the new penalty provisions of the EAPPA, anyone convicted of financial exploitation can lose the equipment used in the crime as well as money and property gained through the crime.

The law requires “the court…order that the defendant forfeits to the United States (1) any property, real or personal, constituting or traceable to gross proceeds obtained from such offense; and (2) any equipment, software, or other technology used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of such offense.” This can include cars and real estate property.

The EAPPA also directs the Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s office, and other agencies to work together to “create, compile, evaluate, and disseminate materials and information, and provide the necessary training and technical assistance, to assist states and units of local government in:  investigating, prosecuting, pursuing, preventing, understanding, and mitigating the impact of physical, sexual, psychological abuse; exploitation include financial abuse and scams; and “assessing, addressing, and mitigating the physical and psychological trauma to victims of elder abuse.”

Hopefully, with improved local, state, and federal coordination, increased data collection, and more victim assistance at a national level, we will see a significant decline in scams and schemes targeting our elders.

It should be noted that the act was authored by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa – thank you Senator Grassley!

S. 178 – The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act Key Provisions

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) would improve the nation’s response to elder abuse and financial exploitation of seniors. It does so by encouraging the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators who prey upon seniors, enhancing data collection, and supporting robust elder abuse prevention programs.

Key Provisions:

  • Ensures that at least one Assistant United States Attorney will be designated to serve as Elder Justice Coordinator in each Federal judicial district. (Each Coordinator would prosecute elder abuse cases but also serve as the judicial district’s point-person on these cases.)
  • Calls for FBI agents to receive training on the investigation of elder abuse cases.
  • Requires the Department of Justice to establish an elder abuse resource group to facilitate information sharing among Federal prosecutors and, more broadly, to support the prosecution of elder abuse cases.
  • Ensures that those convicted of financially exploiting seniors through e-mail marketing will be subject to criminal penalties. Mandatory forfeiture and restitution provisions also are included in the legislation.
  • Requires the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which is comprised of leading U.S. Attorneys from across the country, to establish an elder abuse working group to offer advice to the Attorney General on DOJ’s elder abuse policies and strategies.
  • Tasks the Attorney General with publishing best practices for data collection, in consultation with State and local agencies. Also promotes data collection at the Federal level, as the bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the Department of Justice with its annual statistical data regarding adult protective services investigations and findings in elder abuse cases.
  • Supports training and technical assistance for State investigative, prosecutorial, and prevention personnel. Specifically, the Attorney General is charged with creating, compiling, and disseminating materials to State and local agencies regarding the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of elder abuse.
  • Authorizes and encourages States to enter into interstate agreements and compacts to collaborate and share resources and expertise in the fight against elder abuse and exploitation.
  • Calls for the Attorney General to designate an Elder Justice Coordinator for the entire Justice Department within 60 days of the bill’s enactment. (Among other responsibilities, the Coordinator is expected to enhance DOJ’s understanding, prevention, and detection of, as well as its response to, elder abuse.)
  • Requires the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to designate an Elder Justice Coordinator within the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. (This individual will be responsible for coordinating and supporting the enforcement and consumer education efforts on elder abuse and exploitation.)
  • Makes state courts eligible for federal grants to be used to assess the effectiveness, safety, and integrity of adult guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.

 

TEXT OF PUBLIC LAW NO: 115-70 (10/18/2017)

[115th Congress Public Law 70]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



[[Page 1207]]

               ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION AND PROSECUTION ACT

[[Page 131 STAT. 1208]]
Public Law 115-70
115th Congress

                                 An Act
 
To prevent elder abuse and exploitation and improve the justice system's 
response to victims in elder abuse and exploitation cases. <<NOTE: Oct. 
                         18, 2017 -  [S. 178]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Elder Abuse 
Prevention and Prosecution Act. 34 USC 10101 note.>> 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Elder Abuse 
Prevention and Prosecution Act''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Definitions.

        TITLE I--SUPPORTING FEDERAL CASES INVOLVING ELDER JUSTICE

Sec. 101. Supporting Federal cases involving elder justice.

       TITLE II--IMPROVED DATA COLLECTION AND FEDERAL COORDINATION

Sec. 201. Establishment of best practices for local, State, and Federal 
           data collection.
Sec. 202. Effective interagency coordination and Federal data 
           collection.

     TITLE III--ENHANCED VICTIM ASSISTANCE TO ELDER ABUSE SURVIVORS

Sec. 301. Sense of the Senate.
Sec. 302. Report.

       TITLE IV--ROBERT MATAVA ELDER ABUSE PROSECUTION ACT OF 2017

Sec. 401. Short title.
Sec. 402. Enhanced penalty for telemarketing and email marketing fraud 
           directed at elders.
Sec. 403. Training and technical assistance for States.
Sec. 404. Interstate initiatives.

                         TITLE V--MISCELLANEOUS

Sec. 501. Court-appointed guardianship oversight activities under the 
           Elder Justice Act of 2009.
Sec. 502. GAO reports.
Sec. 503. Outreach to State and local law enforcement agencies.
Sec. 504. Model power of attorney legislation.
Sec. 505. Best practices and model legislation for guardianship 
           proceedings.

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 34 USC 21701.>> DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act--
            (1) the terms ``abuse'', ``adult protective services'', 
        ``elder'', ``elder justice'', ``exploitation'', ``law 
        enforcement'', and ``neglect'' have the meanings given those 
        terms in section 2011 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
        1397j);
            (2) the term ``elder abuse'' includes abuse, neglect, and 
        exploitation of an elder; and

[[Page 131 STAT. 1209]]

            (3) the term ``State'' means each of the several States of 
        the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of 
        Puerto Rico, and any other territory or possession of the United 
        States.

        TITLE I--SUPPORTING FEDERAL CASES INVOLVING ELDER JUSTICE

SEC. 101. <<NOTE: Designations. Deadlines. 34 USC 
                        21711.>> SUPPORTING FEDERAL CASES 
                        INVOLVING ELDER JUSTICE.

    (a) Support and Assistance.--
            (1) Elder justice coordinators.--The Attorney General shall 
        designate in each Federal judicial district not less than one 
        Assistant United States Attorney to serve as the Elder Justice 
        Coordinator for the district, who, in addition to any other 
        responsibilities, shall be responsible for--
                    (A) serving as the legal counsel for the Federal 
                judicial district on matters relating to elder abuse;
                    (B) prosecuting, or assisting in the prosecution of, 
                elder abuse cases;
                    (C) conducting public outreach and awareness 
                activities relating to elder abuse; and
                    (D) ensuring the collection of data required to be 
                collected under section 202.
            (2) <<NOTE: Consultation.>>  Investigative support.--The 
        Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of the 
        Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall, with respect to crimes 
        relating to elder abuse, ensure the implementation of a regular 
        and comprehensive training program to train agents of the 
        Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation and 
        prosecution of such crimes and the enforcement of laws related 
        to elder abuse, which shall include--
                    (A) specialized strategies for communicating with 
                and assisting elder abuse victims; and
                    (B) relevant forensic training relating to elder 
                abuse.
            (3) Resource group.--The Attorney General, through the 
        Executive Office for United States Attorneys, shall ensure the 
        operation of a resource group to facilitate the sharing of 
        knowledge, experience, sample pleadings and other case 
        documents, training materials, and any other resources to assist 
        prosecutors throughout the United States in pursuing cases 
        relating to elder abuse.
            (4) Designated elder justice working group or subcommittee 
        to the attorney general's advisory committee of united states 
        attorneys <<NOTE: Consultation.>> .--Not later than 60 days 
        after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General, 
        in consultation with the Director of the Executive Office for 
        United States Attorneys, shall establish a subcommittee or 
        working group to the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of 
        United States Attorneys, as established under section 0.10 of 
        title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor thereto, 
        for the purposes of advising the Attorney General on policies of 
        the Department of Justice relating to elder abuse.

    (b) Department of Justice Elder Justice Coordinator.--Not later than 
60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General 
shall designate an Elder Justice Coordinator

[[Page 131 STAT. 1210]]

within the Department of Justice who, in addition to any other 
responsibilities, shall be responsible for--
            (1) coordinating and supporting the law enforcement efforts 
        and policy activities for the Department of Justice on elder 
        justice issues;
            (2) <<NOTE: Evaluation. Public information.>>  evaluating 
        training models to determine best practices and creating or 
        compiling and making publicly available replication guides and 
        training materials for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, 
        judges, emergency responders, individuals working in victim 
        services, adult protective services, social services, and public 
        safety, medical personnel, mental health personnel, financial 
        services personnel, and any other individuals whose work may 
        bring them in contact with elder abuse regarding how to--
                    (A) <<NOTE: Investigations.>>  conduct 
                investigations in elder abuse cases;
                    (B) address evidentiary issues and other legal 
                issues; and
                    (C) <<NOTE: Assessment.>>  appropriately assess, 
                respond to, and interact with victims and witnesses in 
                elder abuse cases, including in administrative, civil, 
                and criminal judicial proceedings; and
            (3) carrying out such other duties as the Attorney General 
        determines necessary in connection with enhancing the 
        understanding, prevention, and detection of, and response to, 
        elder abuse.

    (c) Federal Trade Commission.--
            (1) Federal trade commission elder justice coordinator.--Not 
        later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the 
        Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission shall designate within 
        the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade 
        Commission an Elder Justice Coordinator w