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Senate Committee hears Sponsor Testimony on Elder Fraud Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony this week from Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville), the sponsor of Senate Bill 158. The bill would develop best practices and educational opportunities to combat elder fraud and exploitation and to fine and require full restitution from offenders who are found guilty of certain fraud-related crimes against the elderly.

Sen. Wilson said in sponsor testimony that seniors lose nearly $3 billion to fraud each year. "In my 40-year career in banking, I witnessed daily attempts to financially exploit seniors. As a state, I believe we can do more to ensure that our elders receive the protections they deserve," he said.

Sen. Wilson said the aim of the measure is to knock down barriers to the reporting and investigation of elder fraud through awareness, education and enforcement. Under the bill, the attorney general's office would be required to publish public service announcements about elder fraud. The legislation would also update the list of mandatory reporters and strengthens penalties.

But Sen. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) questioned the public service announcements. He accused Treasurer Josh Mandel of using public service announcements for a disability savings program to further his political ambitions. "I think it was self-promotion as opposed to promotion of the issue," Sen. Skindell said.

Sen. Wilson said there will be guardrails in place to ensure that the public service announcements serve an educational purpose. "I feel very comfortable that this provision will provide the education we are trying to achieve," he said.

Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) asked about the potential for an elder fraud hotline. Sen. Wilson called the suggestion an excellent idea.

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