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Fraud Prevention

Emergency or "Grandparent" Scam

March 08, 2011

Though the “Emergency Scam” (or sometimes referred to as the “Grandparent Scam”) has been around for years, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns the public to be on alert after noting a marked increase in the number of complaints in the last two months.

In the typical scenario, a grandparent receives a phone call from a con-artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren.  The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. Typically they claim being in a car accident, trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money.

A typical call can go something like this:

Con-artist: Hi, Grandma/Grandpa

Victim: Hi.

Con-artist: Do you know who this is?

Victim: John?

Con-artist: Yeah.

Victims don’t verify the story until after the money has been sent as the caller specifically asks that they do not want other relatives to know what has happened by asking “Can you please help me?  I’m in jail (or in the hospital / or in some type of financial need). But don’t tell Dad.  He would kill me if he found out, please send the money ASAP. I’m scared"

Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends money by a money transfer company such as Money Gram or Western Union.

Variations on the scam exist such as an old neighbour, a friend of the family etc. but predominantly the emergency scam is directed toward the Grandparents.

If you are contacted by one of these individuals, please verify the story with other relatives. Do not send any form of payment or give out your personal information and report the incident to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre.

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