Ontario Provincial Police are warning the public about what appears to be a twist in what they call the Grandparent Scam.

The scam involves suspects contacting seniors or family members claiming they need money because their grandchild or family member face an emergency.

The relative is told lies like their loved one was in an accident, is under arrest, or, in some cases, is ill. Scammers will advise the victim that a payment for supposed bail, legal fees or or other costs is required immediately. If the victim agrees to pay the requested amount, suspects will ask the victim to send cash in the mail or through courier services. A  deeply concerning new trend has suspects obtaining the victim’s address, and physically attending the residence to collect the funds, posing as a courier or representative of the court.

Between January 1, 2022 and August 31, 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received over 13,293 grandparent or emergency scam reports from Ontario residents. Of those, 7,322 were classified as victims with total reported losses in excess of $118 million. According to the CAFC, since November 2021, close to 55 individuals have been arrested across Canada as mules picking up cash at victim residences. Nearly 40 of the arrests have occurred in Ontario.

Warning Signs – How to protect yourself

-If you receive a suspicious phone call claiming to be from a family member in an emergency situation, hang up the phone and contact them directly.
-If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official, hang up and call your police directly.
-Listen to that inner voice that is screaming at you: “This doesn’t sound right”.
-Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites for targeting purposes. Suspects can easily gather names and details about your loved ones.
-Be suspicious of telephone calls that require you to immediately take action and request bail money for a family member in distress.
-Be careful with caller ID numbers that look familiar. Scammers use technology to disguise the actual number they are calling from (spoof) and make it appear as a trusted phone number.

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