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New Illinois law to help fight financial exploitation of seniors, disabled

A new law on the books will help fight financial exploitation of seniors and those with disabilities thanks to state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, passed Senate Bill 69, which institutes tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability.

“The holiday season tends to coincide with an increase in scammers preying on our seniors, partly because these sorts of crimes are considered lower-risk,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this awful epidemic, this new law will toughen penalties for targeting seniors and people with disabilities.”

There are millions more elderly U.S. residents whose life savings or retirement funds in danger. Our senior populations lose as much as $36 billion every year through scams and financial exploitation.

“I pledge to continue to work toward commonsense reforms to protect our seniors and disabled populations from this harmful abuse,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

This new law expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception over $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.

It also clarifies that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

“Financial scams continue to increasingly become more sophisticated and believable, it is important that as a state we give our law enforcement the additional means to act against those attempting to exploit vulnerable populations,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “These restrictions will help make scammers think twice before attempting to manipulate seniors and people with disabilities.”

Senate Bill 69 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support and was signed into law last summer.

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