Police want you to share this podcast amid rise in scams targeting seniors

Photo by Tima Miroschnichenko.

Those of us who spend time in the digital landscape are likely familiar with the emergency/grandparent scam. Kingstonist has reported on this scam many times over the past few years, and today, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have released alarming statistics, noting that the incidences of this scam continue to increase, despite public warnings.

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) have collaborated to share their knowledge about the alarming rise in emergency/grandparent scams, which impact some of the most vulnerable members of society. Those affected by this scam may not be aware of it, so the organizations are asking the public to share this 20-minute audio presentation (https://www.oacp.ca/en/Images/Note.mp3) with their loved ones in hopes of educating everyone on this scam and how to stay safe from it.

The presentation features crime prevention experts talking about this type of fraud and sharing tips on how to help keep individuals safe from this scam, the OPP said.

From January 1 to June 30, 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received reports totalling a staggering $9.2 million in victim losses associated with the Emergency-Grandparent scams. With just over three months remaining in 2023, it is anticipated that the losses will greatly exceed the 2022 reported losses, which totalled $9.4 million, the OPP stated.

“It is estimated that only five to 10 per cent of victims report scams and frauds to the CAFC or law enforcement. According to the CAFC, seniors lose, on average, 33 per cent more than other demographics,” the OPP said in a press release.

“Emergency/grandparent scams occur when a senior receives a phone call from someone who impersonates their grandchild in order to gain credibility with the victim. The caller will claim to be in trouble and will request money right away from the victim. Often, they will say they were in a car collision with a rental car or they are under arrest and in jail in another city or country.”

According to the release, the “grandchild” will tell the victim they do not want their parents to know and ask the victim to keep it a secret. Police said that to make the story seem more credible, the caller might also put another person on the phone to act like a police officer, bail bondsman or lawyer. The victim, wanting to help, will withdraw funds from their bank account and wire money to the “grandchild.”

The OPP noted that the money is often sent through a money transfer service where the scammer can then pick it up at any location across the world. The scammer might also arrange for a courier to come to the victim’s home to collect the money.

In the past week alone, two scams of a similar nature — both targeting senior citizens — have been reported by the Prince Edward County (PEC) OPP. One of those involved scammers actually showing up at the homes of their victims, and the other saw $17,000 defrauded from a Picton resident before a vigilant pharmacy employee intervened when the victim returned to the pharmacy to deposit more money into a cryptocurrency account.

To learn more about emergency/grandparent scams and other frauds visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca. Anyone who has fallen victim to fraud, or who knows someone who has, is asked to contact their local police service to report the crime and report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.

Find the audio presentation here, and share it with your loved ones.

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