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New York is hoping to protect their elderly from scams and has taken a new approach to ensure that perpetrators think twice before going after them.

According to a new law in Queens, criminals who seek out the elderly to swindle them in mortgage scams will now be charged with the felony of a hate crime.

The new stature has won Queens prosecutors stiffer sentences, including sentencing of criminals who could otherwise go free, even after draining an elderly person’s savings.

Without a hate crime, theft of less than $1 million carries no mandatory prison time. With it, the thief must serve a minimum of one year and can face the possibility of 25.

The legal thinking behind the novel method is that New York’s hate crimes statute does not require prosecutors to prove defendants “hate” the group the victim belongs to, merely that they commit the crime because of some belief, correct or not, they hold about the group.

This month, Queens prosecutors charged two women with stealing more than $31,000 from three elderly men they had befriended separately. The women, Gina L. Miller and Sylvia Johns were charged with grand larceny as a hate crime.

Prosecutors hope that the new law will deter the financial attack against the elderly and help them to be safer within their own communities.