With $750,000 having already been defrauded from victims of the 'Grandparent' scam this year, the RCMP are advising the public that they should speak to family, friends, or loved ones who may be vulnerable to this particular scam.
According to Alberta RCMP, along with partners from the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), while the amount of money that has been lost is of concern, there is also a great concern for the 'couriers' of these scams showing up in person to collect the cash.
Cpl. Sean Milne of the Alberta RCMP Serious and Organized Crime Unit encouraged residents to never feel embarrassed to tell someone that a scammer contacted them.
"If they are contacted by a scammer, they shouldn’t keep it secret, and they should reach out for help," he said.
The scam also known as an 'emergency' scam or 'grandchild' scam has been circulating in the province in recent months, with 150 reports made to the RCMP in 2022 so far. These scams often involve a phone call being placed to the victim claiming a loved one is in trouble with the courts or law enforcement and payment is needed to help them.
"The suspects will often pretend to be a police officer, judge, or family member. Suspects will usually ask for cash; however, they may also ask for payment in gift cards, bitcoin, or e-transfers. The scammers will then send an associate acting as a courier to pick up the money in person or ask the money be mailed," a police release stated.
Police said that the two common themes of these scams are a sense of urgency: the payment must be made immediately or there will be worse consequences; and secrecy: no one can know because it is embarrassing or because the judge has placed a publication ban or “gag order” on the case.
In order to avoid being defrauded, police are reminding residents that bail is always paid in person at a courthouse or correctional center and that if a person claims to be a police officer or judge, one can always call that police service or courthouse directly to confirm the situation. One should also never send money to anyone that is unknown to them.
"Police and courts will never demand cash be picked up in person or mailed. Never give out personal information over the phone or online to someone you don’t know—the police or courts will not ask for personal information over the phone."
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