AGs urge Congress to allow seniors to get victim compensation money

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Attorney generals across the country, including Daniel Cameron in Kentucky, have signed a letter urging Congress to pass legislation amending the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to include eligibility for senior victims of fraud to receive funds from the Crime Victims Fund in states that offer crime victim compensation.

So far this year, senior adults in Kentucky have lost more than $1 million to scams.

The Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act, known as Edith’s Bill, broadens the definition of crime victim to include senior victims of fraud, making it possible for these victims to apply for financial relief from state crime victim compensation programs.

Edith’s Bill also creates a new source of funding by allowing penalties and fines from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, including white collar criminal conduct against seniors, to bolster the Crime Victims Fund.

Passed by Congress in 1984, VOCA established the Crime Victims Fund to provide financial assistance to crime victims through state-based compensation programs and state grants. Under the Act, state compensation programs are currently able to cover expenses related to certain crimes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Attorney General’s Office of Senior Protection has reported an increase in the number of senior victims and the amount of money lost as a result of scams.

Since March, Kentucky seniors have reported losing over $1 million to scams, which is an increase of more than 1,400 percent as compared to the same time frame in 2019.

While alarming, these statistics are vastly under-reported. According to a 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, only 1 in 44 cases of financial fraud are reported. By adding senior fraud as an eligible reimbursement expense under VOCA, Kentucky will be able to help senior victims receive financial relief.

Attorney General Cameron joins attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin in signing the letter.

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