The famous tale about infamous robber Willie Sutton says he was asked why he stuck up dozens of banks. His reply, so the story goes, was, "Because that's where the money is."
Modern-day scammers who prey upon the elderly may have similar thoughts. To counter that, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is offering the Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act of 2013.
The penalties for perpetrating financial fraud range from $5,000 to $100,000 for individual offenders and $50,000 to $500,000 for businesses. Mr. Casey's bill would add on 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.
The Pennsylvania senator is acting on the understandable impulse that the elderly deserve added protection against such crimes because their higher rates of mental, physical and cognitive impairment make them more vulnerable to being bilked out of savings, pensions or investments.
But the consequences of such crimes are the same for victims who are 61 or less. In fact, some young potential victims would be hurt harder by such losses than some of their elderly peers. Despite the bill's good intentions, it would create a special class of victim, which strikes us as unfair.
Mr. Casey introduced a similar bill twice before, but they failed to draw bipartisan support. There may be a reason for that.
A lot of Willie Suttons are out there targeting young and old because "that's where the money is." The nation's laws should be geared to crack down on all of them.