Scamming seniors has become a booming business. During Covid-19 alone, federal officials have warned over 300 companies are touting fake Covid-19 cures and supplements to vulnerable seniors hoping to protect or cure themselves of the deadly disease during the pandemic.
Now, a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general are urging the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to include Edith’s Bill in COVID-19 relief legislation. Initially introduced to legislation by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, The Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act or “Edith’s Bill” would incentivize states to pay back senior victims of fraud through the Crime Victims Fund established by the Department of Justice.
“We need to protect seniors who are especially vulnerable to fraud and abuse by bad actors, and protect the retirement savings they worked so hard over a lifetime to build. When seniors get scammed, they should be paid back and that’s what my bipartisan reform will do,” Senator Baldwin said in a statement.
The group of attorneys general, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, claim scam artists are very much aware that seniors are especially at risk from Covid-19, and target those they believe to be isolated at home and separated from families, caregivers, and support networks.
“Scammers have always targeted senior citizens and now that they’re also at higher risk from COVID-19 the scammers are taking advantage of that,” Attorney General Wilson said. “We need to do all we can to protect our seniors.”
Across all states, there has been a major uptick in Covid-19 scams. One of the fake Covid-19 supplements from a Dallas-based company called OrganyLife reportedly tried selling horse milk to seniors, claiming it could help people recover from the deadly disease faster. The firm’s milk products had been sold on Amazon, according to the FTC’s May 11 warning letter, which was sent by email and copied to a corporate attorney for Amazon.
Earlier this month Amazon released a statement saying,
“Amazon requires that sellers provide accurate information on product detail pages and put processes in place to proactively block inaccurate claims about Covid-19 before they are published to our store. We’ve also developed specific tools for Covid-19 that run 24/7 to scan the hundreds of millions of product detail pages for any inaccurate claims that our initial filters may have missed.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has warned that fraudsters “are offering Covid-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information.”
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