Legislation Amending the Victims of Crime Act to Assist Seniors

Attorney General Cameron Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Congress to Pass Legislation Amending the Victims of Crime Act to Assist Seniors

Edith’s Bill Provides Eligibility for Senior Fraud Victims to Receive Crime Victims Funds

FRANKFORT, Ky. (August 11, 2020) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, in co-signing a letter urging Congress to pass legislation amending the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984 to include eligibility for senior victims of fraud to receive funds from the Crime Victim’s Fund in states that offer crime victim compensation.

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 Victim’s Fund.

“While any Kentuckian can be the victim of a scam, seniors often do not have the means to recuperate from the financial loss associated with scams,” said Attorney General Cameron. “We’ve seen an alarming increase of scams targeting seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and amending VOCA to extend compensation to this population will provide important and necessary assistance to help seniors financially rebuild.”

Passed by Congress in 1984, VOCA established the Crime Victim’s 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.

View a copy of the letter here.

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