1998 Report to the Congress: Adequacy of Penalties for Fraud Offenses Involving Elderly Victims


Click the thumbnail for full report.This Report to Congress is submitted pursuant to the directive in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which states - The Commission shall review and amend the sentencing guidelines to ensure that victim related adjustments for fraud offenses against older victims over the age of 55 are adequate. The Commission sought to measure the degree to which sentencing judges are using available guideline mechanisms for providing higher sentences when older fraud victims are involved, and relatedly, whether the case law or empirical data suggest any significant dissatisfaction with available penalty levels. (March 1998)


Key Findings

  • Lack of consistently reported information on victim age in case files prevents a comprehensive assessment of the adequacy of guideline sentences in fraud offenses involving older victims.

  • When older victims are defrauded, there is some evidence that courts are using existing sentence enhancement mechanisms under the guidelines, particularly the upward adjustment for offenses involving vulnerable victims.

  • In older victim fraud cases in which the vulnerable victim enhancement applies, courts apparently find the magnitude of the enhancement (approximately a 25 percent increase) to be adequate.

  • Based on court sentencing decisions, the threshold at which fraud victims generally are perceived to be vulnerable because of age appears to be substantially greater than age 55.