EDMONTON – The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is warning senior citizens to use extreme care on the web after a recent scheme cost a local man $175,000.
The man received an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, telling him he had a virus on his computer.
“Being elderly and very trustworthy, he took the person for their word,” said EPS Economic Crimes Det. Bill Allen.
The senior gave his credit card information to pay the $200 fee to fix his computer, but was billed three times.
“When the gentleman contacted them to get a refund, they began to befriend him and solicit further funds through wire transfers in order to receive a document,” added Allen.
The man believed his wire transfers would eventually get him instructions walking him through how to get his refund.
“After a period of time – and we’re talking months – family suspected he was being victimized. They got involved and confronted him, and from that he started to hide what he was doing from them.”
The family changed the senior’s phone number, however three days later, the man changed it back so he would be able to remain in contact with the con artists.
After another six months, the man’s family insisted the police get involved, and the case was reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
The Anti-Fraud Centre deemed the man was still being victimized and the EPS became involved again.
“It was very sad to see him,” said Allen, who witnessed the man waiting by the phone.
“As soon as the phone rang, you could tell he was waiting for this phone call, and that interaction.”
The man stopped attending family functions for fear of missing out on the delivery of the document.
“Even to this day, he felt I was trying to interfere in him from getting his document,” said Allen.
“I just wanted him to stop sending them his money.”
Allen believes seniors are targets for online scams because “they’re just not as savvy with technology, so they believe what the other person is saying.”
The Edmonton senior in this case no longer has control over his own bank account and has been in the care of psychiatric nurses.
Edmonton police say they have heard about 1,600 mass marketing fraud attempts so far this year, and 500 of those actually stole money from the victim. Police estimate they hear less than 25 per cent of all frauds.
© Shaw Media, 2014