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Red Deer RCMP warn of scam targeting seniors

Watch out for callers pretending to be a grandchild
Red Deer RCMP has received calls from victims of a scam targeting seniors. (Advocate file photo)

Scammers are once again targeting grandparents with a bail scam, says Red Deer RCMP.

RCMP said seniors were targeted with the same scam in March.

“(Wednesday) we received five reports of attempted grandparent scams, and there are likely more targeted individuals that haven’t called us,” said Cpl. Michael Evans, in a statement.

Seniors are contacted by someone pretending to be their grandchild saying they were arrested and need bail money. The senior is warned 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 told that a courier will pick it up from their residence later that day. Sometimes 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.

RCMP said the victims have received calls from people impersonating American and Canadian police officers.


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“These fraudsters are highly-skilled at manipulation and use fear, panic, guilt and empathy to prey on people,” Evans said. “Their techniques are elaborate and quite convincing. They often search social media for information to enhance their credibility and knowledge of their victim.”

He encouraged people to make sure their elderly family members are aware of the scam.


Red Deer RCMP warn community of scam targeting seniors

Tips to recognize impersonation fraud include:

• 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.

Anyone who believes they were defrauded, or know someone who was, should contact Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575 or their local police service. Also report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre which CAFC collects information on fraud and identities theft trends across Canada.

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