Grandparent scams on the rise, warn York police

Investigators with the York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit issued a warning of a recent rise in fraud schemes targeting elderly and vulnerable citizens.

York police say they have seen an increase in reports from citizens across the region who have reported being a victim of a scam known as the grandparent scam or emergency scam. Since August 4, 13 incidents have been reported and more than $50,000 has been lost. Many of these reports have come from residents living in the Newmarket and Aurora.

Emergency scams are often called grandparent scams because fraudsters will prey on a grandparent’s bond with their grandchild in an effort to defraud them. Often, criminals will place a telephone call to an elderly person while posing as their grandchild in distress, demanding money to get them out of trouble. In some cases, a second suspect will play the role of a government official, a police officer or a lawyer who then provides instructions on how the victim can deliver the money. These type of frauds may be repeated over the course of days, weeks or even months, as the criminals gain the trust of their victims.

Never offer personal or financial information to the caller, or send money to someone you don’t know, police said. Call the grandchild or family member in question, at a phone number you recognize as their own
Ask the caller personal questions that only your grandchild could answer but an imposter could not. Verify the story or information with family first. Press the caller for details if they identify as a government official and verify their information.

If you have been a victim of a fraud, and have lost money, report the incident promptly to the York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit either online at yrp.ca/ReportIt or by calling 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6627. To report frauds where no money has been lost, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

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