U.S. attorney lowering threshold for elder exploitation prosecutions

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By: Freddy Monares

Alme made the announcement Wednesday morning in Bozeman at a fraud prevention training for law enforcement officers and county attorneys. State Auditor Matt Rosendale, who is running for the U.S. House, organized the training, which focused on recognizing and preventing financial exploitation among seniors…

In 2017, the Legislature passed a bill that gave Rosendale’s office permission to temporarily freeze a bank account when suspicious activity is happening. In 2019, the Legislature expanded the law with a bill that protects a bank for sharing information with the auditor’s officer when it suspects fraud.

Rosendale’s office reported in May that it received more than 30 reports of suspected exploitation and stopped $5 million in problematic transactions. More than a quarter of the reports involved Bozeman seniors, the office said.

Rosendale said the likelihood of retrieving money from a fraud case is pretty thin and that the sooner his office begins investigating, the better. He said the goal of Wednesday’s training was to help law enforcement recognize early signs of when someone might be taking advantage of an older person.

“The more that we could make folks aware that these problems are out there, and any time we could catch them before they happen, the better off the whole community is going to be,” Rosendale said.

The training was part of Rosendale’s Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force. The task force was created in January to protect the state’s older population from financial crimes and abuse. The task force set up a Billings team and is working on setting up others across the state to quickly respond to cases of financial abuse of seniors and other vulnerable populations.

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