Winnipeg police say there’s been a surge of fraudulent phone calls targeting the elderly in what is known as the grandparent scam.
In this particular ruse, scammers will impersonate a family member claiming to be under arrest and in urgent need of bail money, police say. Another variation includes pretending to be a legal representative for a detained loved one.
At times, couriers are sent to the supposed victim’s residence to collect the money.
WPS began cautioning the public on this issue last October, when 457 cases were reported within six months of 2021.
The scam resulted in over $1 million in losses across Canada, police say.
According to police, these scams have continued to “flourish” since last year. They tell the public to keep informed on the warning signs and take measures to prevent falling for the scam.
Officers say to be wary of any phone call that requests bail money for the release of a relative.
The identity of the caller should be verified first before disclosing personal information of any kind. Families can use code words, or the person receiving the call can contact the relative directly for confirmation.
Police also note law enforcement or other legal officials do not request money.
Under certain circumstances, an arrested person can be released to a surety — an individual who assumes responsibility for the accused person’s actions.
A surety payment is generally made at the law courts. Any payment requests made over the phone should be considered suspicious.
Officers recommend individuals be cautious of what information they share online to limit scammers’ ability to use personal details.
— with files from Adrian McMorris