Saturday, May 18, 2024

Toronto woman arrested in Burlington grandparent scam

Halton police has arrested a 22-year-old woman from Toronto in connection with a “grandparent scam” being operated in Burlington.

On May 25, officers were made aware of a scam in progress and attended the residence where they arrested Jada Witter-Watts (22) of Etobicoke. She has been charged with Fraud Over $5000.

Police said the suspect attended this location in order to collect $9,500 cash from a victim for the alleged and fabricated bail of his grandchild. (This is a theme often used by fraudsters throughout the GTA.) In this occurrence, the caller identified themselves as an RCMP officer and advised the intended victim to withdraw money from his bank and not to tell his wife or bank the reason for the withdrawal.

Emergency (grandparent) scams typically involve the victim receiving an unsolicited phone call regarding a loved one being in distress. The perpetrators falsely identify themselves as a loved one, or impersonate a police officer and/or other participants of the criminal justice system (such a lawyers, bailiffs, and “bondsman”), falsely claiming that the loved one is in police custody as a result of a specific incident. They request a larger sum of money to have the supposed loved one released from custody, or to pay for associated bills/fines accrued as a result of the alleged incident. The funds requested can be in the form of a direct cash payment, bank transfers, various gift cards, and digital currency. While the scam is ongoing, and the payments are being made, the perpetrators will on occasion use the threat of a fictitious “gag order” to prevent the victim from discussing the matter with anyone else.

Police shared several tips to avoid being scammed. The first being to verify the caller’s identity. Do not volunteer any information and further ask very specific probing questions about the caller, police said.

Request to call back the initial caller – then independently find the number of the police service (or other purported agency in question) and call them directly to clarify the situation. If unsure, call your local police service and ask them for assistance.

Attempt to directly call the loved one in question and clarify the matter with them, police advised.

Investigators are asking anyone who has information or may have also been victimized to contact the Regional Fraud Unit – Intake Office at 905-825-4777 ext. 8741. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

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