INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 11, 2016)-- International drug rings are targeting American seniors, fooling some into smuggling drugs across international borders, said officials with the Department of Homeland Security.
During a hearing before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, details were announced about the new scam that has resulted in about 30 Americans being detained overseas.
Federal authorities said seniors are being recruited via social media and email and told they are taking part in a business opportunity where they'll fly to different countries meeting business partners.
What the victims don't know is that they're actually being used as drug mules.
Andrew Martin's 77-year-old father fell for the scam. Martin testified in front of the special committee, Wednesday, to explain what happened.
"The man informs dad the books are sealed for protection, but if security wants to inspect them it's okay to go ahead and allow that. This apparently satisfies my father so he never looks at the contents," explained Martin. "He is stopped by security who see the books during an extra exam of his carry on. To my dad's horror, they find cocaine."
Daniel Seibert told the Committee about how he almost went to jail.
"I had to go to UK to pick up a package that I was going to take with me all the way to Japan," recalled Seibert.
An agent stopped him at the airport and Seibert said he had no idea what was going on.
Committee members called on the Justice Department to do more to prosecute this kind of fraud.
"Many of these seniors who fall victim to these scams have diminished mental capacity and are not able to distinguish a real offer from a scam," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The oldest person conned as a part of this scheme was 97 years old.