By Bill O'Boyle
June 18, 2013
WASHINGTON — As criminals continue to target seniors for financial scams, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, has introduced new legislation to stiffen penalties for fraud against older citizens.
Casey’s bill — the Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act — would provide seniors with needed protections from scam artists.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, financial scams cost older Americans $2.9 billion in 2011 — a figure that has increased 12 percent since 2008. Currently, crimes against seniors — who make up 14 percent of the nation’s population — are responsible for 26 percent of all fraud cases.
“A lot of families are victimized by these criminals,” Casey said during a teleconference from his Washington office. “These scam artists try to rob people of their assets, investments and savings. They prey upon seniors as well as others.”
He said seniors especially depend on their assets for their retirement years.
According to information released from Casey’s office, Americans over the age of 65 control an estimated $18 trillion in assets.
There are 43 million Americans 65 and over, the senator said, and that number is expected to more than double by 2060, as seniors grow from one in seven Americans to one in five.
The Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act would:
• Amend the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to increase the maximum civil penalties for violations that are primarily directed toward or committed against a senior (age 62 or older).
• Increase the maximum civil penalty for violations against seniors by $50,000.
• Direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend federal sentencing guidelines and policy statements to ensure that guideline offense levels and enhancements appropriately punish criminal violations of the securities laws against seniors.
Casey said the bill could go to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he wasn’t sure.
“This bill has all the elements of a good bipartisan bill,” he said. “We will be looking for support on both sides of the aisle.”
Casey noted Pennsylvania as a higher population of people over 65 than the rest of the country.