OPP warn you to be wary of 'Emergency Scam'
ORILLIA, Ontario, March 28, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Con artists prey on the most vulnerable in society, which may include the elderly, who are often hesitant to say 'no' to someone on the phone. Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say this type of telephone fraud can easily be prevented by simply hanging up.
The "Emergency Scam" -- sometimes referred to as the "Grandparent Scam" -- has been around for years. Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch have noted a marked increase in the number of complaints in the last few months and warn you to be on alert.
In the usual "emergency" scenario, an elderly person receives a phone call from a con-artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren, a friend of the family, or a former neighbour. The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and 'need money immediately.' Typically, they claim to have been in a car accident, or are having trouble returning from a foreign country, or they need money for bail. Victims don't verify the story until after the money has been sent through a wire transfer service, as the caller specifically asks that they do not want other relatives to 'know what has happened', saying something similar to, "Don't tell Dad. He would be very upset with me if he found out. Please send the money ASAP. I'm scared."
From January to November 2010, 1073 complaints were made to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC; formerly Phonebusters) by Ontario residents reporting this scam. 195 complaints in Ontario involved victims who were defrauded of more than $853-thousand. That money is often funnelled back into criminal organizations to perpetuate and expand the cycle of illegal activities further victimizing the unsuspecting public.
If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of an 'emergency' money transfer or "Grandparent Scam", contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).