FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                     OJP

FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2002                                                                                           202/307-0703




WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department today announced grant awards to the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Legal Services of Eastern Michigan and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas to help improve services for older victims of fraud.  These grants, provided by the Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), total approximately $200,000 each, and will help develop innovative research, training and materials that OVC will distribute to law enforcement officers, victim service providers and professionals who work with older adults.

 The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the year 2020, nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population will be age 60 or older. A 1999 AARP study estimates that 56 percent of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 50 or over.

“All too often older people are easy targets for various types of financial fraud. These crimes can have a devastating impact on all victims, but particularly on older victims, who sometimes lose their entire life’s savings,” said OVC Director John W. Gillis.  “My hope is that the work of our grantees will help build a foundation to bolster the response to elder fraud victims nationwide.”

The three grantees were competitively selected from 48 applicants, and will be undertaking a wide array of activities. The Denver District Attorney’s Office will partner with faith-based organizations to serve 40,000 elderly in the Denver area through efforts such as sending weekly financial crime prevention messages, training volunteers to work with victims and improving financial crime reporting.  It will also hire a community advocate who will work with the faith-based organizations to encourage the detection and reporting of elder fraud cases.

Legal Services of Eastern Michigan, based in Flint, will develop a comprehensive elder fraud training program covering predatory lending, home solicitation, financial exploitation, and telemarketing fraud.  The training can be modified for many different types of participants, such as law enforcement officers, bankers and senior care center directors.

Sam Houston State University’s National Institute for Victim Studies will examine the relationship between natural disasters and elder financial exploitation, using Tropical Storm Allison in Texas and tornadoes in Kansas and Oklahoma as models.  The University will also examine the types of information available to older people to warn them about fraud in the wake of natural disasters.

Information about other OVC programs, publications and conferences are available through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Website at and from the OVC Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872.

Information about other OJP bureaus and program offices is available at  Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.     

                                                                          # # #

OVC 02079