Western District of Louisiana takes part in Largest-ever Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep
SHREVEPORT, La. – Attorney General William P. Barr and U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph announced Thursday the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, surpassing last year’s nationwide sweep. The cases during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than 2 million Americans, most of them elderly.
In the Western District of Louisiana, the sweep included the indictment of Gregory Alan Smith, 56, of Shreveport, and Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 65, of Houston, Texas, who are charged with defrauding investors out of more than $1 million. According to the indictment returned by a federal grand jury on March 29, 2018, Smith used his influence and status as the operator and manager of Smith Financial Group LLC in Shreveport, and Caldwell used his influence and status as pastor at a prominent Houston church to lure investors into sinking their money into what they thought were high-return investments. Instead of investing the funds, the defendants used them to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses. Some of the victims were seniors.
“In Louisiana we teach our children to honor and respect their elders. Unfortunately, some in our society target the elderly — betraying their confidence and stealing their hard-earned savings,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph. “My office will continue working daily with our law enforcement partners to protect the elderly members of our communities from those who would steal from them through false promises and fraudulent schemes. Make no mistake, we will expose those who prey upon our seniors and bring them to justice.”
“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But thanks to the hard work of our agents and prosecutors, as well as our state and local partners, the Department of Justice is protecting our seniors from fraud. The Trump administration has placed a renewed focus on prosecuting those who prey on the elderly, and the results of today’s sweep make that clear. Today we are announcing the largest single law enforcement action against elder fraud in American history. This year’s sweep involves 13 percent more criminal defendants, 28 percent more in losses, and twice the number of fraud victims as last year’s sweep. I want to thank the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which led this effort, together with the Department’s Criminal Division, the more than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and the state and local partners who helped to make these results possible. Together, we are bringing justice and peace of mind to America's seniors.”
The Department took action in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at over three fourths of one billion dollars.
The charges are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. The Justice Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.
A fact-sheet with technical-support fraud case information can be found here.
A fact-sheet with cases on mass mailing fraud can be found here.
A fact-sheet with examples of a few elder fraud cases involving extradition in which the Office of International Affairs played a substantial role can be found here.
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.