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Published February 26, 2024

Huronia West OPP intercept grandparent scam attempt, two charged

Driver charged in collision that killed child in Orillia
File photo of an OPP cruiser

Huronia West OPP have arrested and charged two people regarding a grandparent scam investigation, say the two imitated police.

Officers say they were told of a potential scam in progress between Thursday, February 22 and Saturday, the 24th.

"The victim was contacted by phone advising that their grandson had been arrested," OPP said in a release on Monday.

"The accused identified themselves as a Newmarket Police Officer over the phone and advised that the victim's grandson required financial assistance to cover the cost of judge and lawyer fees to get him out of jail. The accused attended the victim's residence three separate times to collect funds and were greeted by the Huronia West OPP on the third attempt."

A 24-year-old London man was charged with:

  • Adult Fraud Over $5000
  • Adult Resist Peace Officer

The accused was held for a bail hearing.

And a 25-year-old Bowmanville man faces one charge of:

  • Adult Fraud Over $5000

He was released with a future court date.

Huronia West OPP provided the following information about grandparent scams and how to stay safe.

What is a Grandparent/Emergency Scam?

Emergency scams, including variations called "grandparent scams", use urgency and the manipulation of emotions to extort money from victims. In these scams, fraudsters cold call seniors, on landline phones, claiming to be a grandchild, family member, law enforcement officer or lawyer calling on behalf of their loved one. They will say that the person's loved one was involved in an emergency situation, such as a collision, charged by law enforcement, legal peril, being sick or injured, etc. They demand the senior provide payment immediately for supposed bail, legal fees, fines, or other amounts "owed" to stop the family member from going to jail or to get them released from custody. This is a scam.

The fraudsters isolate the victims by informing them that there is a court-imposed gag order, and they are forbidden from discussing the matter. The victims are directed to attend their financial institution to withdraw the requested amount in cash. The fraudsters will then send someone to pick it up from the victim's home or have the victim send the money via courier services. There have also been reports of victims paying with cryptocurrency.

Warning Signs - How to protect yourself

  • If you receive a suspicious phone call claiming to be from a family member in an emergency, hang up the phone and contact them directly on the number you have in your contact list.
  • If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official and asked you to pay a fine or bail, hang up and call your police directly. A Police Officer will never call you and ask for money.
  • Listen to that inner voice that is screaming at you: "This doesn't sound right".
  • Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites for targeting purposes. Suspects can easily gather names and details about your loved ones.
  • Be suspicious of telephone calls that require you to immediately take action and request bail money for a family member in distress.
  • Be careful with caller ID numbers that look familiar. Scammers use technology to disguise the actual number they are calling from (spoof) and make it appear as a trusted phone number.
  • If you receive an email or text message claiming to be from a friend or loved one asking for money, make the outgoing call to the person by looking up the legitimate phone number you have for them in your contact list.
  • Use unique and strong passwords for all social media and email accounts.

If you know a grandparent, please reach out to them, and have a conversation on what to do if they get a phone call like this.

YouTube:

English - Grandparent Scam Video

French - Grandparent Scam Video

Twitter:

Twitter - Grandparent scam tips

Facebook:

Facebook - Grandparent scam tips

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. If not a victim, report it to the CAFC anyway at Report fraud and cybercrime (antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca)

Banner image - file photo - Barrie 360

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