The U.S. Department of Justice awarded a nearly $500,000 grant to combat elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors in the Western Washington Tribal community Friday, Oct. 2.

The grant, announced by U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Brian Moran, is part of $9 million in funding to support these efforts throughout the United States. Attorney General William P. Barr presented the aid on the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons.

Elder abuse is any intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult, according to a news release from the DOJ. 

“I’m pleased that the Muckleshoot Tribe will have these additional federal resources to protect their elders from fraud and abuse,” Moran said in the release. “They join Alaska Native organizations, universities and nonprofits across the country in developing programs to protect older adults.”

In March, Barr said prosecutors charged more than 400 defendants in “the largest elder fraud sweep ever conducted.” These elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of over a billion dollars, the news release said. That same month, Barr launched a national initiative to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care, in addition to a National Elder Fraud Hotline.

“Predators who target older citizens for fraud, financial scams and physical abuse are particularly despicable, turning the golden years of our nation’s seniors into a period of poverty and suffering,” Barr said in the release. “The Department of Justice is taking aggressive action, pursuing all legal avenues to bring these criminals to justice and supporting law enforcement officials and service providers as they ferret out scam artists, arrest abusers, and bring aid and relief to victims.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine Sullivan said older adults are especially vulnerable to fraud, neglect and abuse with lockdowns in place across the country. These grants, which build on previous DOJ investments, will help to “turn the tide of deception and predation” and restore victims to fiscal security and physical safety, she added.

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