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‘We’re going to find you and prosecute you:’ Lawmakers look to protect elders from coronavirus scams

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WASHINGTON  — Some seniors throughout the country are the targets of scammers who are now using the coronavirus outbreak as a way to exploit the vulnerable.

“This is the worst of the worst,” Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick said.

Now, members of Congress like Fitzpatrick and Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright are working to put a stop to it.

“You’re no good, we’re on to you, we’re gonna stop what you’re up to and we’re going to find you and prosecute you,” Cartwright said, addressing the scammers.

New legislation would provide funds for states to set up legal advice hotlines for older Americans.

“A lot of seniors that have relied on people that they’ve interacted with, your financial planners, attorneys or what have you, don’t have that ability because they’re staying at home for their own health and safety,” Fitzpatrick said.

The hotlines would help combat financial exploitation and elder abuse, as well as help seniors access housing and medical care.

“People have to approach anything that sounds at least suspicious, very carefully,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said.

Barr says the justice department will show no mercy to those who target the elderly during the pandemic.

“We have all of our offices in the country on the lookout and pursuing them aggressively,” Barr said.

“Scams will continue to sneak through and that’ll keep the justice department busy as well,” Cartwright said.

Some states already have hotlines in place but are operating with limited hours. If it passes, the increased funding would help states expand their efforts, helping more people.

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