Friday, Jul 29, 2016
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Senior moment

Scammers who prey on trusting investors are loathsome. A bill before the U.S. Senate aims to make them pay.

The penalties for perpetrating financial fraud now range from $5,000 to $100,000 for individual offenders and $50,000 to $500,000 for businesses. The Senate bill would add civil fines of $55,000 to $150,000 for individuals and $100,000 to $550,000 for businesses that defraud victims who are 62 or older.

Elderly people might appear to deserve more protection against financial crimes. Their higher rates of mental, physical, and cognitive impairment make them more vulnerable to being bilked out of their money.

But the consequences of such crimes are the same for victims who are 61 or younger. Some young potential victims could be hurt harder by such losses than their elderly peers. Despite the bill’s good intentions, it would create a special class of victim, which seems unfair.

The Senate has considered similar bills twice before, but they’ve failed to draw bipartisan support. There may be a reason for that. The nation’s laws should be geared to crack down on crooks who target all investors, young and old.

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