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July 22nd - Warning: ‘Grandparent’ scam fraudsters are very active and targeting seniors

The Ottawa Police Service is advising residents that the ‘grandparent’ scam is very active this summer, with 20 reports received in the past 7 days alone. Victims have been defrauded of large amounts of cash, ranging from $10,000 to 30,000.

Most typically it is an elderly person who receives a phone call from someone claiming to be his or her grandchild. The caller says that they have been arrested and they urgently need you to send money or gift cards for their bail.

The fraudster will make it difficult to understand what they are saying or to recognize the voice in an attempt for victims to fill in the blanks as to who they are. They are incredibly convincing and count on the emotional factor.

In the past week, victims who came forward to police told Fraud Unit investigators that they have been made to believe by the fraudster that a ‘Gag Order’ was put into place to protect the identity of the police officer who is going to be collecting the monies.

This fake secrecy demand puts victims in an awkward position; they will then shy away from telling any other persons about the demand for money from a family member.

The Ottawa Police are reminding the community that police never ask for money for Bail from family members, nor do we issue ‘Gag Orders’.

Bail Hearing in Canada takes place in Court and does not necessarily involve money.

If there is a financial penalty involved, it is not paid upfront to a police officer, by pre-paid gift cards or via transfer to someone’s bank account.”

If you get a call like this, here’s what you should do:

  • Never confirm any personal information over the phone.

  • Always verify who is calling. If it is a family member as they claim, tell them you will call them back and use the number you have for this person. Don’t use a number given by the caller. Use 411 or the Internet to get the phone number if you don’t have it.

  • Don’t be pressured. Take some time to process what you have been told, to see if it makes sense. Ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion, or if in doubt, call your local police service.

Make sure your elderly family members, neighbours, and friends, are aware of current scams and how they work.

You can get information from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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