Red Deer city RCMP are warning senior citizens about a phone scam after a number of victims have fallen prey to sending several thousands of dollars away to thieves.
Over the last several months, police have witnessed a significant increase in complaints from individuals who have experienced an “emergency” or “grandparent” scam.
The caller typically calls the senior claiming some misfortune, then requests money.
Fraudsters have called Red Deer residents, saying they are in a foreign country and need money, or that they are in jail and require bail.
The victim usually unwittingly gives information to the fraudster.
They’ll initially call up saying, “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” and then the victim may try to guess the name of the grandchild, thereby providing the fraudster with information needed.
The fraudster also tries to tell the victim to keep their conversation a secret because they don’t want the victim to talk to family or loved ones who will then become suspicious of what is happening.
The phone number on call display may also seem authentic, but fraudsters will use a device to program a number that may appear local, when it is actually coming from another city.
It may show up as 000-000-0000.
The victim is asked to send a money order via a wire transfer company somewhere in Canada, but that money can be retrieved at any of the company’s international offices.
Money orders are hard to trace and when they are traced, the fraudster has usually provided a false name.
Spokeswoman Cpl. Kathe DeHeer said some people have sent several thousands of dollars.
“This is happening all over the country, one of the newest scams,” said DeHeer.
“It’s always a scheme to send cash with money orders. We have to stop trusting people and start asking questions.”
DeHeer said these investigations are often complex and the likely recovery of someone’s money is highly unlikely. So there’s not a lot that police can do, said DeHeer.
To avoid falling victim to this type of fraud, never give personal information over the phone, don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision, speak to a trusted family member before sending money, and be wary of calls made from spoofed phone numbers.
Individuals are also urged to call RCMP to verify the legitimacy of the call.
For more information on scams, go online at www.recol.ca or www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca