Gatineau police report increase in “grandparents' scam” cases: Aylmer senior lost almost $10,000
An Aylmer senior was victimized by what Gatineau Police (SPVG) call a “grandparents' scam” which the police warn is increasing in the Outaouais.
These scams usually involve the suspect pretending to be a family member of an older individual. The suspect will call the victim, claiming to be their granddaughter’s spouse, son-in-law, or grandson. They will say they were involved in a car accident where they hit someone, and that they have been arrested. Sometimes the suspect will admit to using their phone at the time of the fake collision.
To get money, the suspect will say that he only has one phone call and does not have much time, but needs money for bail. The suspect will usually ask the victim not to tell anyone and say that their lawyer will be contacting the victim. A second suspect claiming to be the lawyer will then call the victim and say they need a certain amount for bail. The second suspect will ask the victim not to tell the bank teller that the money is to pay bail, because there will be too much paperwork.
Once the victim has the money, the suspect will let them know that a bailiff or an officer of the court will stop by the victim's home to collect the money. Once the suspect has the information needed, they will go and collect the money. In some cases, the suspect may arrange to meet in a public place.
Between May 11 and 25, the SPVG received 15 calls concerning the “grandparent scam”. In 14 of the cases the callers had been scammed for thousands of dollars ranging from $4,000 to $10,000. The victims were all between the ages of 60 and 94.
Anyone can be the target of scams; however, older people are often targeted because of the wealth they may have accumulated over the years.
The SPVG notes that, to pay bail, an individual would have to go to the police station, the Hull sector jail, or the Clerk at the courthouse. They would also receive an official receipt from an employee. Bail amounts cannot be set over $500 unless a judge makes the decision to set the bail higher.
The Gatineau police highlight that individuals cannot rely on the number displayed during the call, even if the number is one of a trusted family or organization, as scammers can display any number on the phone to convince the victim.
The SPVG suggests asking neutral, specific, or personal questions that a scammer could not guess correctly to validate their identity. Individuals should not say names as scammers can use that information to confuse the victim. They also suggest double-checking by calling the person who the scammer claims to be, using the number normally used to contact that family member.
Individuals should not transfer money regardless of how desperate the scammer makes the situation seem and no personal bank information should be provided. If an individual is unsure about a situation, they can contact the SPVG at 819-246-0222.