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July 24, 2020

Reps. Pressley, Bonamici, King, Katko, Stefanik Unveil Bipartisan Bill to Help Senior Fraud Victims Recover Financial Losses

Bill Text (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Vice Chair of the House Democratic Task Force on Aging and Families Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and House Elder Justice Caucus Co-Chairs Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Peter King (R-NY), along with Representatives John Katko (R-NY), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), announced bipartisan legislation to help seniors who have been victimized by financial scammers.

The bipartisan Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act (Edith’s Bill) will allow elderly victims of financial scams to recoup their financial losses through the Crime Victims Fund. The bill is named in honor of Edith Shorougian, who lost over $80,000 in retirement savings after being scammed by a financial planner. 

“Our seniors are among our most vulnerable, and we have a moral obligation to ensure their financial security,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. “As reports of scams targeting seniors skyrocket amid the COVID-19 crisis, it’s absolutely critical we do all we can to safeguard our older neighbors from fraud and support those who have fallen victim to these schemes. That’s why I’m so proud to introduce Edith’s Bill, which will protect senior victims of fraud by guaranteeing states have the funding needed to reimburse them for money stolen by scammers. It’s unconscionable that anyone would prey on our seniors, particularly in the midst of this pandemic, but in light of this tragic reality, we must take bold action to keep them financially secure, and that’s exactly what this bill will do.”

“It takes decades to build retirement savings, but it can be stolen in an instant,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Fraud is always wrong, but these types of crimes are especially devastating because victims of senior scams often do not have the time they’d need to rebuild financially. Edith’s Bill will give back the financial resources that were stolen from older Americans so they can age with dignity. I am grateful to my Elder Justice Co-Chair, Peter King, and my colleagues for joining me in this bipartisan effort.”

 “COVID-19 has ruined enough lives by itself. It’s imperative that we do all that we can to mitigate the financial ruin caused by those who prey and take advantage of vulnerable seniors,” said Congressman Peter King. “I thank Congresswoman Bonamici for pushing this effort.”

 “Scammers have used the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit seniors in Central New York and communities across the nation,” said Congressman John Katko. “We need to protect seniors from these opportunistic criminals and I am pleased to join Republicans and Democrats in introducing the Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act. Our bill incentives states to reimburse seniors who have been victims of fraud through the Crime Victims Fund, a program created by the Department of Justice that operates on fines and penalties from federal criminal convictions. By taking this step, we will ensure seniors who have fallen victim to scams have the means to seek reprisal.”

“Far too often, our nation’s seniors fall victim to fraud and scams,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “While we must continue to hold perpetrators accountable and try to prevent these situations from happening, we must also support those who have unfortunately been victimized. I am proud to join my House colleagues in introducing this important, bipartisan legislation to help senior fraud victims.” 

The bill is supported by: AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, Elder Justice Coalition, National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV), National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), National Children’s Alliance, National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), Justice in Aging, The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), Public Investors Advocate Bar Association (PIABA), Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS), North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and Public Citizen. 

As Vice-Chair of the House Democratic Task Force on Aging and Families, Congresswoman Pressley has fought to protect our vulnerable aging population. In February, the Congresswoman introduced the Older Americans Bill of Rights – a resolution that establishes fundamental rights every older American and their families deserve, including the protection of their financial and retirement security. In December, she introduced the Grandfamily Housing Act, legislation to ensure access to affordable and appropriate housing for grandparents raising grandchildren.

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