Local residents should be wary of phone calls from friends and relatives requesting money as an “Emergency” or “Grandparent” scam has appeared in the area.
A local senior citizen told the Times this morning that she received an early-morning phone call from someone posing as her grandson.
He claimed to be in Montreal and that his wallet had been stolen—and he needed money sent to him, she explained.
Knowing that her grandson was not in Montreal, the woman became suspicious. The caller hung up when she told him he couldn’t be her grandson.
While the incident has been reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (PhoneBusters), the woman said she wanted to warn other seniors to be aware of the scam and not to fall for it.
Known as the “Emergency” or “Grandparent” scam, this type of fraud has the con artist contact “potential victims while posing as a family member or friend in urgent need of cash,” stated the CAFC.
“Often the scenario involves an accident or arrest while travelling abroad, with a request that cash be sent through a money transfer company such as Western Union or Money Gram,” it noted.
These types of fraudulent calls predominantly are directed towards grandparents, with the caller’s story not being verified until after the money has been sent.
A recent variation of this scam also sees an individual’s e-mail account “hijacked,” the CAFC reported, with “urgent” e-mails requesting money being sent out to friends and relatives with whom a person has had correspondence with.
Such a scam was reported in Fort Frances just last month, when a local woman’s e-mail and Facebook account was used to send requests for money, saying she was stranded in England.
In 2008, there were 130 failed attempts of this form of fraud reported to the CAFC and 69 successful pleas amounting to $157,452.16.
As of October, 2009, there were a reported 278 failed attempts and 88 successful pleas–amounting to $317,732.63.
The CAFC estimates the reports reflect only five percent of the actual number of cases.
Those who have received similar calls—or have been the target or victim of fraud—can report it to PhoneBusters by calling toll-free 1-888-495-8501
More information on this type of fraud, and others, can be found online at www.phonebusters.com