Friday, June 27, 2008

Casey, Kohl Introduce Bill to Help Protect Seniors from Investment Fraud

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, today introduced a bill to help protect seniors from investment fraud. The Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act would increase penalties for those who commit securities violations against people who are at least 62 years old.

“Everyday, older Americans are targeted for investment scams and they see their life savings go down the drain” said Senator Casey “Pennsylvania has the second highest number of residents over the age of 65 and we must take care of them. This legislation will help better protect our older citizens from being targeted from fraud.”

“Many seniors are discovering that their life savings may not be enough to last them throughout their retirement. As they turn to investments to bridge the gap, seniors need to know that they can trust the people who handle their money,” said Senator Kohl. “This bill will ramp up the punishment for those who advantage of older Americans’ well-earned retirement savings.”

Americans over the age of 65 control an estimated $15 trillion in assets, a large portion of which are investable. Seniors have difficult and complicated decisions to make on how to stretch their savings throughout their retirement. Their assets remain at risk from traditional fraud and Ponzi schemes. Recently, seniors are increasingly offered many new but complicated investment tools such as reverse mortgages and various annuity products. While these products can be very valuable to Americans generally and seniors specifically, they can also be abused by unscrupulous actors.

Additionally, many older Americans are targeted by con artists who seek to exploit them through manipulation and fraud. Seniors already account for more than half of all investor complaints received by state securities regulators. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reported that they are working to improve their ability to prevent fraud and abuse where possible and prosecute it where necessary.

Under the Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act, penalties for existing securities violations could include an additional $50,000 civil fine for each violation that is primarily directed toward, specifically targets, or is committed against a senior. Under the legislation, seniors are defined as persons age 62 or older, the age at which most retirement savings become available for use and investment.

The bill would increase penalties for those who commit securities violations against seniors - violations could include selling them products that are unsuitable for their age, failing to disclose fees, lock-ups of cash or large penalty charges, switching investments sold with the one marketed or other material aspects of the investment. The bill would not interfere with legitimate investment advisors who recommend products and investments appropriate for their customers.

Last September, the Aging Committee held a hearing to examine some of the questionable practices used by so-called senior financial investment specialists in order to gain access to the retirement savings of older Americans. An investigation conducted by the Committee revealed that many seniors targeted by such unscrupulous salesmen have lost their life savings because they were steered toward investment instruments that were unsuitable for them, given their retirement needs and life expectancy.

Rohit Mahajan
Press Secretary
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Tel: (202) 224-5653
Cell: (202) 489-8021

Kendra Barkoff
Press Secretary
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
202-228-6367Mobile: 202-731-7778

Contact Senator Robert P Casey Jr and let him know you support his efforts to protect our elders :

Contact Senator Herb Kohl and let him know how much you appreciate his efforts :

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