Teen arrested after Stratford seniors targeted in ‘grandparent scam’

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An alleged fraudster is in custody after three seniors were targeted this week by what police have dubbed the “grandparent scam.”

In all three incidents, the complainant was telephoned by a man identifying himself as a police officer who claimed their grandson had been arrested on drug charges. The man told each complainant that bail needed to be paid before their grandson would be released.

In the first incident, the complainant made arrangements with the caller to visit their home to retrieve the fraudulent bail payment. The complainant made a cash payment of $8,400 on Friday, Jan. 12. On Monday, the complainant contacted police after realizing the incident was a scam.

The second complainant was contacted Monday morning and told a similar story as the first complainant. Again, arrangements were made for an in-person “bail payment.” After speaking with her grandson later that day and realizing she had been scammed, the complainant contacted police about her $7,300 loss.

The final complainant contacted police on Monday evening. In this instance, the complainant had contacted family prior to making the demanded payment of $7,000. The complainant, though, said the scammer was scheduled to arrive within the hour to pick up payment.

Officers arrived in the final complainant’s neighbourhood and soon found a young man who matched a description provided by the first two complainants. While the suspect allegedly resisted arrest, no one was injured.

The accused, an 18-year-old Brampton resident, was charged with three counts of fraud with a value more than $5,000, three counts of extortion and one count of resisting arrest. The suspect was held in custody for a Tuesday bail hearing.

Anyone who receives a call requesting large sums of money should hang up and contact the person the scammer is claiming to be directly, police said, noting law-enforcement officials and lawyers will never ask for immediate payment or wire transfers.

The grandparents scam has been around for years, but reports of it have been on the rise in recent years. In response, police forces across Southwestern Ontario have repeatedly issued warnings to the public.

In February of last year, a Strathroy-area senior lost roughly $8,000 in a similar scam.

In July 2022, London police issued a warning to the public after receiving several complaints about this type of fraud.

In that same year, a St. Thomas man fell victim to the fraud after a caller claiming to be an RCMP officer told him that his grandson was being held by the Mounties but could avoid a criminal record if the man paid $10,000, police said.

In Sarnia, police fielded 30 complaints about the grandparents scam in a single day in 2022 after issuing a public alert earlier that week.

Anyone with information about these or similar incidents is urged to contact Stratford police at 519-271-4141.

This article was originally sourced from www.StratfordBeaconHerald.com