The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida has announced that Michael Jerome Atkins was arraigned on November 21 for allegedly defrauding a senior citizen out of her retirement savings.
Atkins, 60, was charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. The press did not say if he has acquired the services of an attorney.
According to the indictment, Atkins is accused of devising a scheme to defraud an elderly woman of her entire retirement savings, totaling over $400,000, between July 2015 and October 2015. Atkins allegedly borrowed the money from the victim and promised to repay her in two months. His relationship with the alleged victim is unclear. The victim’s name is also being withheld in public reports.
Atkins purportedly used the money for his business, All Points Aviation and Associates, LLC. The disbursement checks were made payable to his business and the victim, who cosigned the checks. The funds were paid out in three installments. It is not currently clear whether the victim thought she was investing in the business.
Atkins is accused of forging the victim’s signature for the third and largest installment of $317,916. He reportedly transferred the money into his business account, which only he could access. The indictment further claims that he used the money for his personal benefits and didn’t repay the victim as promised.
The U.S. Department of Justice has significantly stepped up its enforcement of criminal and civil cases targeting seniors since President Trump signed into law the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA).
The law puts numerous provisions into place, including designating at least one Assistant U.S. Attorney as an elder justice coordinator in every judicial district, and designating elder justice coordinators at the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.
In March this year, the Justice Department announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, involving more than 260 defendants who had victimized more than two million Americans, most of them elderly, and stolen more than $500 million.
“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But thanks to the hard work of our agents and prosecutors, as well as our state and local partners, the Department of Justice is protecting our seniors from fraud.”
Mail fraud is serious offense that is considered a form of communications fraud in the state of Florida. Communications fraud occurs when a person willingly engages in a scheme to defraud another person or institution either by mail, telephone, or electronic means. The penalties of a conviction vary on a situational basis but often include lengthy prison sentences and/or hefty fines.
South Florida Bank Fraud Attorney
If you are involved in a mail fraud case, then you should hire an attorney. Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation and work with one of South Florida’s most experienced bank fraud attorneys.