The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is one of ten nationwide chosen by the Justice Department to form an Elder Justice Task Force.
All levels of government officials are part of the group, including both advocacy agencies and law enforcement officials.
FBI Agent Gabriel Poling says the goal is to identify and prosecute crimes such as financial exploitation as well as physical or emotional abuse.
“Partnering with local and state agencies is critical so nothing falls through the cracks so to speak,” he says. “Many of our investigations start with a tip from the public and we really encourage people who suspect they might know of an instance of elder abuse to give us a call.”
It’s estimated elderly Americans lose $2.6 billion a year due to fraud.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Besler says the focus is on all forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
“It is our hope that this will expand and improve our abilities to protect the elderly and ensure that those who those who would violate the trust of the elderly would be held accountable and brought to justice,” he says.
A health care fraud auditor and three paralegals have joined the U.S. Attorney’s office to help process the cases as they are reported. The task force will hold its first meeting later this month.