Ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the DOJ Took Action

By Marianne E. Kreisher Esq., CELA on September 1, 2019

Elder abuse is a growing problem around the world, and in the United States. Many older Americans have fallen victim to some form of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

A scam targeting the elderly was uncovered in Pennsylvania, and the perpetrator was a Pottsville woman. As reported by CBS News, on June 14, 2019, the day before World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, federal prosecutors charged 33-year-old Yahaira Diaz with perpetrating a “grandparents scam” targeting at least ten senior citizens and robbing them of at least $158,000.

If someone you love has been a victim of elder abuse, contact Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, at (570) 784-5211 for sound legal guidance and dedicated representation. Marianne E. Kreisher and Marissa B. Marshall are the only certified elder law attorneys (CELAs) in Columbia and Montour counties, and our firm handles elder law exclusively. This certification is through the National Elder Law Foundation as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

How Did the Grandparents Scam Work?

The federal government alleges that Yahaira Diaz and her cohorts called seniors, posing as either a grandchild of the older person or an attorney for the grandchild. These scammers would claim that the grandchild was in some emergency. For example, they might say that the grandchild had been charged with driving under the influence, or that the grandchild had been involved in a car accident that injured a child or a pregnant woman. These elderly people would be convinced to send thousands of dollars to the scammers (to deal with the “emergency”), and the scammers would continue calling until the victims realized it was a fraud. In addition to the ten senior citizens who were robbed of at least $158,000, Diaz and her co-conspirators tried to scam their victims for another $69,000.

What Charges Are the Grandparents Scammers Facing?

Diaz was arrested in Bethlehem, along with five others, in March of 2018, following a police investigation of packages shipped from scam victims to city addresses. On June 24, 2019, she was charged with federal offenses including mail fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, Yahaira Diaz faces a maximum sentence of 72 years in prison.

How Big Is the Problem?

Crimes against the elderly affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. CBS News reports that, according to the United Nations, approximately one in six seniors suffers some form of abuse. With people living longer than ever, and the elderly population growing, abuse rates are expected to rise.

Transnational Elder Justice Strike Force

On June 13, 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the formation of the Transnational Elder Justice Strike Force. The strike force was formed to fight fraud committed by perpetrators abroad against seniors in the U.S. through mail, tech-support, or telemarketing schemes. It will call on a variety of agencies, including the FBI, the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the offices of six U.S. Attorneys across the nation.

Get Legal Help for Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a growing problem. It has various forms: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. If your elderly loved one has been a victim of abuse, call Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, right away. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience, and the Kreisher family has been practicing law in Columbia County for four generations. We know all about issues that affect Pennsylvania seniors and their families, and we offer thorough guidance.

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Posted in: Seniors