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‘Grandparent’ emergency scams are on the rise

Grandparent Scams | Pexels
Grandparent Scams | Pexels

‘Grandparent’ emergency scam calls show no signs of slowing down. That’s according to the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) who recently revealed that these scams, which target seniors and feature a caller posing as the victim’s grandchild, have been steadily “increasing and persistent.”

In fact, within the week between September 26 and October 3, 42 emergency scams totaling over $520,000 were reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. 22 of those were from Ontario, and the money lost was valued at over $115,000.

The HRPS has shared that in a typical emergency scam scenario, an older person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild.  The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble, such as being in a car accident or being put in jail, and that they need money immediately.  Some victims may get calls from two people, one pretending to be their loved one and the other acting as a police officer or lawyer.  The caller will ask the potential victim a series of leading questions which prompts them to volunteer personal information.  Typically, they will ask for money to be delivered in cash to a “bail bondsman” or an “employee of a law firm/court”.

Victims are usually told it’s a time-sensitive issue and that “nobody else knows.” Due to the secrecy and pressure, victims often “don’t verify the caller’s story until after the money has been given to the fraudster.”

Here are some tips to avoid becoming a target and to keep in mind:

  • If you suspect you are being contacted by a fraudster, call the HRPS at 905-825-4777 or 911 if it is an emergency
  • If you are at a bank, do not lie to the teller – tell them why you are retrieving the cash.  Employees are trained to assist you in recognizing possible frauds
  • Attempt to verify the caller’s identity – do not volunteer any information, and further ask very specific probing questions about the caller.
  • Request to call back the initial caller – then independently find the number of the police service (or other purported agency in question) and call them directly to clarify the situation. If unsure, call your local police service and ask them for assistance. 
  • Attempt to directly call the loved one in question and clarify the matter with them. 

Remember - Fraudsters will count on your good will to act quickly and help a loved one. Take your time and use above noted tips to protect yourself.  Police, lawyers and the court will never ask you to give money to someone at your door.

You can find additional information on frauds and scams can be found here, or through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

If you have information pertaining to a fraud, please contact the Regional Fraud Bureau Intake Office at 905-465-8741 or [email protected]

You can also submit a tip anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or visiting