Grandparent scam: Canadian seniors with landline phones targeted, out about $2.2 million

Click to play video: '‘Talk to your loved ones’: Grandparent scam targets unsuspecting Calgarians'
‘Talk to your loved ones’: Grandparent scam targets unsuspecting Calgarians
RELATED: ‘Talk to your loved ones’: Grandparent scam targets unsuspecting Calgarians – Oct 1, 2023

The Ontario Provincial Police say several people in Montreal have been arrested in relation to an “emergency grandparent scam” that targeted more than 100 victims across Canada.

Police said the scam was aimed at seniors with a landline telephone. The group involved in the scam would allegedly pretend to be an officer, a judge or a lawyer and claimed to have the victim’s grandchild or family member in custody.

Det. Insp. Sean Chatland with the OPP allege the accused would request bail money in order to release the victim’s family member. They were told not to speak to anyone due to a “gag order.”

“In most instances they utilized money mules or couriers to collect large amounts of money from the victims,” Chatland said.

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The investigation started in September 2022 and Project Sharp was created a few months later in February 2023. It involved 11 police forces across Ontario and Quebec.

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From Jan. 22 to April 8 alone, Chatland said 126 people were identified and lost about $739,000 to the organized crime group. The victims ranged in age from as young as 46 years old to as old as 95 years old, police said.

Fifteen of those victims were repeatedly re-victimized multiple times and lost around $243,000, he said.

However, Chatland said in working with banks they were able to prevent or recover more than $500,000 in losses.

Since February 2022, police allege it’s estimated that more than $2.2 million were reported in losses due to the scam by the group.

Chatland noted that fraud is “massively” under reported and that they estimate only five to ten per cent of fraud is reported to police.

“This investigation is far more than fraud,” Chatland said. “This organized crime group affected victims right across Canada in a manner that will be mentally and financially life-altering.”

Police have arrested 14 people in connection to the fraud and 56 charges were laid including extortion and threats of violence.

“I would like to remind the public that legitimate police officers will never come to your house or call you demanding money,” Chatland said.

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