Tips to avoid the Grandparents Scam

News • Posted by OttawaStart on September 07, 2013

The Ottawa Police Service Fraud Section wishes to raise awareness about telephone con artists that target senior citizens using the Distressed Loved One Tactic.

Across the country, con artists are scamming grandparents out of thousands of dollars by posing as their grandchildren in distress.

How this works:
A Grandparent receives a frantic telephone call from someone they believe to be their Grandchild.

The alleged Grandchild sounds distressed and may call from a location that has heavy background noise or static making it difficult to make out the voice.

The supposed Grandchild claims to be involved in some type of trouble while travelling in Canada, the US, or overseas (e.g. being arrested, having been involved in a car accident or experiencing major car trouble) and asks the Grandparent to immediately wire money to post bail, pay for medical treatment or unforeseen car repairs.

The scammer typically asks for several thousand dollars and may even call back again hours or days later, asking for more money.

The scammer may even claim embarrassment about the alleged trouble they’ve caused, requesting that the Grandparent keep it a secret from other family members and friends.

A variation of the scam may involve two scammers: the first scammer calls and poses as the Grandchild under arrest; the second scammer poses as a law Enforcement Officer--he or she gets on the phone with the grandparent and explains what fines need to be paid.

A common theme of the scam is the caller’s request for the Grandparents to wire through Western Union or to provide account routing numbers and in some instances requesting e-mail money transfers.

Please be aware that wiring money is like sending cash. There is absolutely no protection for the sender. Typically, there is no way of reversing the transaction once it’s gone, and no way of retracing the transaction for recovery of funds.

It is possible that the scammers find their targets on the internet or through social media.

How to avoid being scammed:
- Be suspicious when you receive a call from a faraway location;
- The caller identifies him or herself as your Grandchild only (no first name provided);
- The Grandchild claims to be in some sort of distress;
- The caller insists on you wiring money immediately.

Anyone who may have experienced this type of scam is encouraged to make a report with the Ottawa Police Call Centre 613-236-1222 ext. 7300 or phone Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS) or toll free at 1-800-222-8477.

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