Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachments across the province have been warning of an ongoing scam targeting vulnerable persons and seniors.
On Friday, May 27, detachments from across eastern Ontario issued a warning to the public about an increase in reports of the 'grandparent or emergency scam', which sees fraudsters prey upon a victims fear of a loved one being hurt or in trouble.
The OPP says a victim will usually receive a frantic phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or loved one who will claim to have been in some sort of mishap like a car accident or are having trouble returning from a foreign country and need money right away.
Police are advising the public to be aware of the following warning signs:
- Urgency: The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.
- Fear: The scammer plays on the victim's emotions by generating a sense of fear. For instance they may say, "I am scared and I need help from you."
- Secrecy: The scammer pleads with the victim not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, "Please don't tell Dad, he would be so mad."
- Request for Money: Money can be requested by money transfer or in some cases the scammer sends someone to your home to pick up the payment.
In order to avoid becoming a victim, police are advising the public to always check with another family member or trusted friend to verify the information and to be wary of sending money or providing credit card information by phone or e-mail.
There are also certain online activities to be aware of that can potentially increase the likelihood of becoming a target.
"Be careful what you post online," the OPP said in a release. "Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites. They can search your online accounts to find real names, real interests, real phone numbers and when you are going to be home or away."
If you or someone you know may have been the victim of an 'emergency' scam, you contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). You can also report the information to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.