April 3, 2019 6:48 pm

Peterborough woman issues warning after falling victim to ’emergency’ scam

Eleanor Underwood of Peterborough admits she fell victim to the "emergency" phone scam

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A Peterborough woman is warning the public after falling victim to the so-called “emergency” scam.

Piano teacher Eleanor Underwood says that one early Wednesday in February, she received a call from an individual crying hysterically, who Underwood thought was her daughter.

The caller said she had been drinking and had gotten in a serious car accident that broke a seven-year-old boy’s leg.

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When Underwood asked why the voice sounded different, the caller told her she had broken her nose.

“It was a very, very sophisticated scam,” said Underwood.

The caller said she needed $7,500 dollars to post bail. Underwood immediately rushed to a bank on Hunter St. and wired the hefty sum to the account number she was given.

Only after Underwood got home and called her daughter’s husband did she realize she had been scammed.

“You feel, like… silly,” said Underwood.

Peterborough police say Underwood is one of many victims in the city who have fallen victim to this scam. Det. Const. Keith Calderwood says the scam targets older people, with the perpetrators calling at disorienting times like during the middle of the night.

“They want you to get to a financial institution as quick as you can, and wire the money before you figure out that it’s a scam,” said Calderwood.

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The scam can be avoided, said Calderwood, if you “stop, pause and think.”

“I have always been very careful not to give out information,” said Underwood. “I just slam down the phone. I know not to sign things when people come to my door.”

While she feels partly responsible for what happened, Underwood thinks banks have an equal responsibility to warn people.

Underwood claims she was only asked one question by the bank teller before the transaction was completed: “Do you know the person you’re sending this money to?”

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She was also given a pamphlet with little information about fraud risks.

“I thought, ‘this is no good,'” said Underwood. “The banks can do better than this.”

But Underwood likely won’t be getting her money back. According to Calderwood, tracking money from a scammer creates an exhaustive spiderweb that is impossible to track.

Police are advising people to make sure of your family member’s identities before giving up any money. If you have already transferred cash, contact police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre immediately.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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