Across the country, police and fraud prevention experts are warning Canadians to be vigilant of rising reports of “grandparenting scams” targeting seniors.
In 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center received reports of 379 cases involving 115 victims, with more than $1.7 million in losses. But since the start of 2022, the center says there have been 674 cases involving 273 victims and resulting in losses of $2.7 million.
“We’re looking at almost double the number of reports, and we’re a little over halfway through the year. So that’s very alarming,” Jeff Horncastle, acting chief customer and communications officer, told CTVNews.ca. communication for the center. a telephone interview on Friday.
Police across Canada and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center say these scams, also called emergency scams, typically involve a fraudster posing as a grandchild, niece or nephew of the victim over the phone, claiming that he urgently needs money after an arrest or an accident. .
“The scammers are going to do a lot of research on social media,” Horncastle said. “There is so much information available online that in many cases suspects may actually have a grandchild’s name when they call.”
Police across Canada say the scammer will often look distressed and start crying. The scammer can then change their voice or hand the phone over to another scammer to impersonate a police officer, bail officer, or lawyer as part of the operation.
Horncastle says payment is usually required in cash, although scammers may sometimes ask for a wire transfer or direct deposit payment. If the victim agrees to pay, Horncastle explains that the scammer will usually arrange for someone to come to the victim’s home to collect the money, but they can also request that the money be mailed.
In the Vancouver area, an 80-year-old man lost $16,000 last week, while a 76-year-old woman ended up losing her savings of $30,000 in a separate incident.
Winnipeg police said Thursday there have been at least 15 reports of grandparent scams in the past six days, resulting in losses of $100,000.
Similar scams have also targeted victims across Ontario, from Sault Ste. Marie in Essex County. Ottawa police said last week they had received reports of 20 people in the previous seven days being defrauded of $10,000 to $30,000. In March, Toronto police said 80 seniors had been defrauded of a total of $1.1 million since March 2021.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES
If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be a family member, Horncastle advises you hang up and contact that family member “directly on the number you have for them”.
The same advice applies if the caller is claiming to be a law enforcement officer. Horncastle says you should hang up and call your local police department to verify the legitimacy of the call.
“A lot of times if you listen to that instinct, that voice in your head telling you it doesn’t sound right, normally that instinct is right,” he said.
Even if the number displayed on the caller ID appears to be accurate, Horncastle warns that scammers can use caller ID spoofing to make the call appear to be from a phone number. legitimate police.
“It’s always better to make the outgoing call yourself,” he said.
Police across Canada are also urging Canadians to warn elderly loved ones to be alert to these scams.
“It’s important to have these conversations, whether it’s your parents, your grandparents. If it’s someone close to you who is a senior who may not be direct family, please have that conversation with them,” Const. Jay Murray of the Winnipeg Police Service said at a news conference Thursday.
Police services also point out that, unlike the United States, Canada does not have a cash bond system and instead relies on sureties, meaning there is no need to have cash to release an accused from detention.
If you believe you are or have been the victim of fraud, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center advises you to contact your local police department and call the center at 1-888-495-8501 or file a report through the federal system reporting fraud.
With files from CTV News Winnipeg, CTV News Vancouver, CTV News Ottawa, CTV News Toronto and CTV News Northern Ontario.
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