Waterloo Regional Police have charged two people from Guelph following a failed attempt to dupe a Cambridge resident into giving them $15,000 for their grandson's bail.
On Aug. 3, Waterloo Regional Police received 14 reports of the grandparent scam.
Officers responded to one of those calls, which they allege was a grandparent scam in progress in the area of King Street and Eagle Street in Cambridge.
Fraudsters contacted the victim, an 82-year-old Cambridge resident by phone and reported that their grandson was in jail and needed $15,000 dollars to be released on bail. The victim detected the scam and immediately contacted police.
Officers went to a meeting location to intercept the transaction and arrested two individuals.
As a result of the investigation, a 20-year-old Guelph male and a 16-year-old Guelph youth were arrested and charged with Fraud Over $5,000.
Both individuals were held for a bail hearing.
What is the grandparent or emergency scam?
During the grandparent or emergency scam, the fraudster will contact the victim claiming they are a grandchild who has been arrested and in need of money to be bailed out of jail. While the fraudster can claim to be any family member, they generally pose as grandchildren seeking assistance from their grandparents who appear to be particularly vulnerable to this fraud.
Typically, a call is made from a fraudster claiming to be the victim's grandchild stating they had been arrested after a motor vehicle collision or a traffic stop where drugs were found in the car. The caller asks for money to be bailed out of jail. The victim is then transferred to a second fraudster who poses as a police officer or lawyer, who instructs the victim not to discuss the matter with anyone due to a “gag order” because they could jeopardize the case or themselves face legal consequences.
The fraudster then directs the victim to attend their bank to obtain the funds and coach the victim on telling bank officials the money is for home renovations to avoid suspicion of fraud. The fraudsters will also pose as a courier to pick up the funds or direct victims to send the money via legitimate courier to an address commonly located in another city or Province.
Police are encouraging members of the community to review this fraud scenario with seniors or other vulnerable persons.
The investigations of these frauds are ongoing by the Waterloo Regional Police Service's Organized Financial Crime Team.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Anonymous tips can also be submitted at www.waterloocrimestoppers.
To protect yourself and others from this type of scam, consider the following:
- Take time to think. Fraudsters will make the incident sound urgent to pressure victims into acting quickly and without rational thought. Fraudsters keep victims focused on helping their grandchild and not evaluating the unrealistic nature of the story presented.
- Contact the family member in question or other trusted person to assist as emotions run high for vulnerable victims confronted with a crisis. Typically, fraudsters will instruct victims to not speak to anyone about the incident in efforts to manipulate them, however this type of fraud can typically be foiled with one phone call to the involved family member to confirm their wellbeing.
- Ask the fraudsters verifying questions that only family members would know.
- Call someone you trust or police for an opinion about the incident. The police will never direct members of the public to mislead banking officials as to the nature of the incident or intended use of funds. Police will never request you obtain cash or send cash funds via courier or other means to anyone.
If you believe you have been a victim of a similar scam, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or contact Waterloo Regional Police at 519-570-9777.