Scams targeting seniors see alarming rise


Grandparents scams are on the rise, and organizations want seniors to be vigilant.

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) are collaborating to share their knowledge about the alarming rise in Emergency-Grandparent scams which impact some of the most vulnerable members of society. The 20-minute audio presentation ( features crime prevention experts talking about this type of fraud and sharing tips on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from this scam.

From January 1 to June 30, 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) has received reports totalling a staggering $9.2 million in victim losses associated to the Emergency-Grandparent scams. With just over four months remaining in 2023, it is anticipated that the losses will greatly exceed the 2022 reported losses, which totalled $9.4 million.

“The numbers don’t lie. Losses associated with Emergency-Grandparent Scams are devastating to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Our police services are committed to doing everything we can to ensure we stop these crimes before they happen,” said Chief Jim MacSween, York Regional Police. McSween is also President of OACP.

It is estimated that only 5-10% of victims report scams and frauds to the CAFC or law enforcement. According to the CAFC, seniors lose on average 33% more than other demographics.

“Fraud and cyber enabled frauds continue to devastate Ontario residents and others across the country, with the number of frauds being reported at an all time high. One of the ways to combat fraud is to arm ourselves with knowledge, information and awareness. The OPP and our partners encourage everyone to learn about the Emergency-Grandparent frauds through information being made available to protect yourself, and to share these with your elderly loved ones to help protect them. Together we can lessen the impact of fraud on our communities,” said Detective Superintendent Mike Bickerton, Financial Crime Services (FCS), Ontario Provincial Police.


Emergency-Grandparent scams occur when a senior receives a phone call from someone who impersonates their grandchild in order to gain credibility with the victim. The caller will claim to be in trouble and will request money right away from the victim. Often, they will say they were in a car collision with a rental car or they are under arrest and in jail in another city or country.

The “grandchild” will tell the victim they do not want their parents to know and ask the victim to keep it a secret. To make the story seem more credible, the caller might also put another person on the phone to act like a police officer, bail bondsman or lawyer. The victim, wanting to help, will withdraw funds from their bank account and wire money to the “grandchild.”

The money is often sent through a money transfer service where the scammer can then pick it up at any location across the world. The scammer might also arrange for a courier to come to the victim’s home to collect the money.


To learn more about the Emergency-Grandparent scams and other frauds visit If you fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, contact your local police service to report the crime and report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.