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Lawmakers introduce new bill to target scammers who prey on seniors

ST. PAUL -- Scammers who convince older Minnesotans to send money to people they think they are helping are targeted by a new bill.

“These scams continue to be a growing problem and we need to do all that we can to combat them,” said Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights. “This

legislation is a great step forward and while it’s simple, it will make a huge difference in preventing these types of scams.”

Atkins and Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, wrote the bill to protect senior citizens from what is known as wire fraud.

They said millions of dollars are lost each year, but only 5 percent of the frauds are reported.

Their bill would require wire transfer companies to confirm that the location provided by the sender is the location where the money ends up. Often, the older person thinks the money will go to help a grandchild or friend, but it ends up in the hands of a criminal.

Also, the penalty for such fraud would increase.

"Taking advantage of our seniors' love of their grandchildren is something we cannot tolerate,” Bonoff said. “This bill is one tool of protection."

Peggy Hiestand-Harri said her mother was scammed out of $42,000 through various wire transfers made to a Jamaican fraud ring. Her mother is in bankruptcy and is now on heating and other assistance.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.