‘Totally ashamed’: Toronto senior loses $25K in popular ‘grandparent scam’

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Toronto senior loses $25K in ‘grandparent scam’
WATCH: There is a common type of scam that targets seniors specifically. It’s called the ‘grandparent scam’ and while it may not be new, it appears to be on the rise. As Caryn Lieberman reports, one Toronto senior lost thousands of dollars to the scam – Mar 30, 2022

A Toronto senior who lost $25,000 to a popular phone scam is speaking out in hopes of warning others.

“If something doesn’t sound right, don’t do it…. I get these scam phone calls all the time, but in this case, they get you so upset at the beginning that you’re not thinking clearly,” said Bill, whose last name Global News has agreed to protect.

Bill recalled receiving a phone call in early February by someone claiming to be an RCMP officer.

“He said something about a grandson. Well, I don’t have a grandson, but I said, ‘nephew?’ He said that my nephew had been found at the wrong place at the wrong time…. They discovered three pounds of marijuana in the back, I guess, in the trunk…. I said to him, ‘Well, are you looking for bail?’ And of course, that led right into what he wanted,” said Bill.

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He said the caller requested $10,000 cash and offered to send a courier to pick it up from Bill’s home.

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Bill described visiting his local bank on a Saturday morning and withdrawing a hundred $100 bills and putting them into a “plain brown envelope.”

“This scam is becoming prolific,” said Det. David Coffey, with the Toronto Police Service’s financial crimes unit.

“Since March of 2021, we’ve been able to catalogue over 100 instances where elderly people, our most vulnerable citizens, are targeted by these fraudsters. Not all of them have been successful, but many of them have been for a total of what we can calculate over a million dollars in damages in the last year alone. And it’s likely much higher than that because not everybody reports the crime,” said Coffey.

Known as the ‘grandparent scam,’ fraudsters target older people, who are duped into thinking either a grandchild or another loved one is in desperate need of emergency cash.

“It’s really heart-wrenching because these are 83-, 85-, 95-year-old victims and they’re targeted because of the love they have for their grandchildren. It’s the same scam. It’s not because they’re mentally deficient in any way. It’s literally because they’re targeted because they love their grandchildren and they want to help their grandchildren,” said Coffey.

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Bill ended up losing a total of $25,000 in the scam, after he said another phone call from the same caller demanded an additional $15,000 to help his nephew.

“I’m totally ashamed. Totally ashamed and embarrassed,” he said. “When the scammer says to you he or she doesn’t want the family to know, so don’t speak to them, that’s a real warning sign.”

Coffey said police will never call and ask for cash.

“Toronto police or any other police services throughout anywhere will never contact you and request cash money. Never. No legitimate service or any really legitimate company will call you on the phone and demand cash money,” warned Coffey.

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