The first six months of 2021 saw 457 reports of what the Financial Crime Unit is calling ‘grandparent scams,’ resulting in over $1-million in losses across the country.
According to the Winnipeg Police Service, fraudsters target elderly people and claim to be a grandchild or another family member who’s been arrested and needs bail money.
But the fraudsters don’t stop at pretending to be a relative, sometimes they’ll pretend to be a representative for a detained family member, such as an attorney or bail bondsman. Once the victim is tricked and the money is secured, the scammer sends a courier to pick up the money and even goes so far as to use ride-share drivers to pick up the money.
The Winnipeg Police Service is reminding the public to be very careful about any phone call demanding money, especially if it’s needed immediately. If someone contacts you acting as a relative but you’re unsure about the situation, contact the relative separately or a trusted family member for confirmation. In some instances, families use code words to confirm identity and the validity of a call.
It’s important to remember law enforcement agencies and other legal businesses will never make urgent requests for money over the phone and you should never hand over personal information to anyone you have only talked to on the phone.
If you or someone you know has been victimized by fraud or scam it’s imperative to report it to help you potentially recover any loss and it helps protect the community. Write down and maintain all the information about the scam such as receipts, emails and other communications.
Police say even if you did not suffer any loss but you think there was an attempt to scam you or someone you know, reporting it is the best way to keep you and the community safer.