Based on data provided by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Timmins Police is aware of a recent provincial trend regarding the frequency of attempts to defraud senior citizens with the illicit use of what is commonly referred to as “Emergency-Grandparent scams”
These attempts to defraud seniors occur when a senior receives a phone call from someone who impersonates their grandchild to gain credibility with the victim.
Scammers then attempt to gain access to the intended and targeted recipients’ personal information by either mining social media for personal details or purchasing data from cyber thieves so that they can create storylines to prey on the fears of grandparents.
These fraudsters call and will claim to be in trouble and request money right away from the victim.
Often, they will say they were in a car collision with a rental car, or they are under arrest and in jail in another city or country.
The “grandchild” will tell the victim they do not want their parents to know and ask the victim to keep it a secret.
To enhance the story’s false credibility, the caller might also put another person on the phone to act like a police officer, bail bondsperson or lawyer.
The victim, compelled and wanting to help, will withdraw funds from their bank account and wire money to the “grandchild.”
The money is often sent through a money transfer service where the scammer can then pick it up at any global location. The scammer might also arrange to have a courier come to the victim’s home to collect the money.
Several variations of the grandparent scam have surfaced over the years. From January 1 to June 30, 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) has received reports totaling a staggering $9.2 million in victim losses associated to the Emergency-Grandparent scams. With just over four months remaining in 2023, it is anticipated that the losses will greatly exceed the 2022 reported losses, which totaled $9.4 million.
It is estimated that only 5 to 10% of victims actually report scams and frauds to the CAFC or law enforcement. According to the CAFC, seniors stand to lose, on average, 33% more than other demographics.
The Timmins Police advises that individuals should always use caution if they are being pressured for information or to send money quickly. Scammers often try to create guilt, intimidation or even go so far as to bully victims into transferring money through a mobile payment app, by wiring money, or by purchasing gift cards or money orders.
Though uncommon, some fraudsters may even request to meet to receive money in person.
Quite often, fraudsters may claim to be a lawyer, a police officer or family member in an emergency situation demanding funds.
If a call like this is received, do not send money. The use of high-pressure tactics should alert you that this is likely a scam.
It is recommended that, in response to such a call, contact your grandchild or another family member to verify the validity of the claims or requests.
The Timmins Police is a staunch advocate of creating crime awareness to better protect our senior citizens from such illicit and fraudulent behaviors
If you are or believe you may be a victim of fraud or know someone who may have been, swift and detailed contact to the Timmins Police to report the crime is vital. These matters should also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.