A case in which a Greensboro, N.C. WWII veteran was swindled out of his home is among the elder abuse cases cited as part of “the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history,” the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Prosecutors charged more than 400 people nationwide this year with allegedly engaging in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors, DOJ said in a release. In total, the schemes reportedly amounted to losses of more than a billion dollars.
To combat the problem, authorities announced the establishment of the National Elder Fraud Hotline, staffed by case managers who will assist callers with reporting suspected fraud and provide resources and referrals for appropriate services. The hotline’s toll-free number is 833-372-8311.
The announcement was made Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina, Attorney General William P. Barr, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale.
“Defrauding older people is reprehensible conduct and we will use all the federal resources available to us to make sure defendants who commit these vile crimes are held accountable,” Martin said in the release.
In the Greensboro case, 51-year-old Rozalia Ann Kramer, 51, pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud and money laundering. She was sentenced Feb. 26 in federal court in Winston-Salem to two years in prison, according to the release. She also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay $90,000 in restitution and a special assessment of $100, and forfeit $102,000.
Citing court documents, the release said Kramer met an elderly veteran, identified as J.V.M., while in line at the K&W Cafeteria at the Friendly Center in Greensboro. She began to meet the widower regularly to eat or for social occasions.
J.V.M. owned a home on Forest Hill Drive, where he lived since the 1950s.
In 2015, J.V.M. began to reach the bottom of his retirement savings, according to the release, and he attempted to arrange a reverse mortgage with at least one bank. He then approached Kramer, who had told him that she was a wealthy real estate investor. Kramer said she could provide J.V.M. with a reverse mortgage that would allow him to live in the Forest Hill Drive property for the rest of his life, according to the release.
J.V.M. gave Kramer a deed to the property and she included his home as part of a group of properties to obtain a loan from B2R Finance, according to the release. She gave $146,000 from the loan to J.V.M, representing that the money was from a reverse mortgage, according to the release.
She convinced J.V.M. to loan $75,000 to a corporation she controlled and gave him a promissory note due in one year, according to the release.
However, she never repaid him and instead broke off all contact after moving to Colorado. She also never made payments on the loan; B2R foreclosed on the property and J.V.M. was evicted, according to the release.
Kramer moved again and ultimately took a job working on an isolated hunting ranch 15 miles outside of Wheatland, Wyoming — an attempt to hide from her victims, prosecutors said. Postal inspectors from Greensboro and Laramie, Wyoming, found Kramer at the ranch and arrested her.
J.V.M died last year. At Kramer’s sentencing, J.V.M.’s daughter testified that the eviction had a devastating impact on her father.
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