OPP warn against emergency scam targeting grandparents

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Fort Frances (May 19, 2020) – The Fort Frances OPP is warning against a ‘sinister’ emergency scam targeting grandparents in the Rainy River district area over the past month. The phone scammer posed as the lawyer hired to defend the grandchild who they claim to be in police custody facing serious impaired driving-related offenses. Using an emergency scam technique, the scammers create urgency and credibility while referring to the grandchild by name.

The Fort Frances Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) issued a warning against a ‘sinister’ emergency scam on May 14. The fraudsters were calling seniors in the Rainy River district area over the past month. The police urged the public to be aware of the latest grandparent scam.

‘A deceitful, yet skilled pair of fraudsters’

Over the past month, phone scammers targeted seniors claiming to be calling on behalf of the victim’s adult grandchild. ‘A deceitful, yet skilled pair of fraudsters’ posed as a lawyer and the victim’s grandchild on the phone. The phony lawyer purported to be hired to defend the grandchild in an emergency situation.

Fraudsters use the emergency scheme to make their victims feel a sense of urgency and panic. They prey on the fear of a loved one being hurt or in trouble. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) explains on their website that the used emergencies may differ. Often scammers use scenarios including needing bail money because of an arrest, being in a car accident, or having trouble returning from a foreign country.

‘Fraudsters are tricksters, they are well versed and aim to obscure facts with intent to confuse and panic their victims,’ stated the Rainy River District OPP Detachment in their news release. ‘When it comes to fraud, there are few scams that are more sinister than the one known as the ‘grandparent’ scam. The [OPP] are warning residents that our district is not exempt from such crimes.’

Emergency scam targeting grandparents

The OPP described that the first male phone fraudster posed as a lawyer claiming he represented their grandchild, who purportedly is currently situated in police custody. The bogus lawyer explained that the victim’s grandchild is facing serious impaired driving related offenses. To make the story seem more credible, the scammer referred to the grandchild by name. That way, they were quick to develop rapport with their victims.

Thereafter, a second fraudster came to the phone and impersonated the grandchild pleading to send cash quickly to cover the fake lawyer expenses. Furthermore, the bogus grandchild begged the victims not to share the information with his parents.

Read more: Peel police warn of ‘grandparent scam’

A few weeks apart, the fraudsters called their victims again two times posing as their grandchild’s lawyer. The first time, they claim to need more money to cover the legal fees of the lawsuit their grandchild is supposedly facing now. The second time, the money is required to assume the restitution the grandchild is now ordered to pay in order to compensate for the caused damage to property during the bogus impaired driving infraction.

The OPP said that money was forwarded through a priority mail service. The investigation revealed that the fraudsters indicated an uninhabited home address of a property that was listed with a realty company. The police explained that sending money through priority mail services allowed the criminals to track the delivery and intercept the money with accuracy and remain undetected.