Red Deer RCMP are once again warning citizens of a fraud specifically targeted at grandparents. In March 2022, Red Deer RCMP issued a warning about “bail scams” targeting Red Deer seniors, and are once again seeing a sharp increase in this type of scam.
“Yesterday, we received five reports of attempted grandparent scams, and there are likely more targeted individuals that haven’t called us,” says Cpl. Michael Evans of the Red Deer RCMP.
In these scams the suspect contacts a senior pretending to be their grandchild, stating that they have been arrested and need bail money. The suspect warns the victim that there is a “gag order” posted on the bond and that the grandparent must not tell anyone about the money. The victim is often instructed to withdraw around $9,000 and informed a courier will pick it up from their residence later that day. In some instances, victims are contacted multiple times a day and instructed to withdraw more and more money over the course of several days to assist their grandchild with their legal costs. There have been reports where the victim receives calls from persons impersonating both American and Canadian police officers.
“These fraudsters are highly-skilled at manipulation and use fear, panic, guilt and empathy to prey on people,” says Cpl. Evans. “Their techniques are elaborate and quite convincing. They often search social media for information to enhance their credibility and knowledge of their victim.”
Red Deer RCMP provide the following tips to recognize impersonation fraud and avoid becoming a victim:
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Fraudsters use high-pressure tactics like creating a sense of urgency or secrecy to cloud your judgement.
- Verify the caller. Hang up and call the person or business that the caller is claiming to be – even when the caller is claiming to be a police officer.
- Don’t be secretive. Fraudsters will pressure you to lie to your bank, the police or family about what is happening. Financial institutions will often intervene if customers withdraw large quantities of cash to ensure they are not being victimized. Fraudsters often coach their victims to say they are doing home renovations, purchasing a used car, or provide other legitimate reasons for the large cash withdrawals. This is a big red flag.
- Do your research. New scams are invented daily, but likely someone has already experienced it and reported it. Call or visit the Canadian Antifraud Centre website to read up on what scams are currently “trending”.
- Never give out personal information. Beware of calls where you are asked to provide your name, address, birthdate, Social Insurance Number, credit card or banking information, and other personal family details.
- Be careful about what you share on social media. Even limited information on profiles can provide a wealth of opportunity for fraudsters. Be wary of how sharing pictures, connecting with family members or joining groups may make you more vulnerable.
“Lastly, we encourage people to speak with their elderly family members to make sure they’re aware of this scam,” says Cpl. Evans.