Canadians have lost $4.2 million this year to emergency scams, also known as imposter or grandparent schemes, and that’s nearly doubled since 2021.


The data, from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), also shows 1,352 incidents were reported between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2022.


Experts say some victims never come forward because of fear or shame.


HOW THE SCAM WORKS


Emergency scams usually begin with a phone call from someone impersonating a friend or family member who claims to be in an urgent situation and is needing money.


The con artists often go after seniors, pretending to be a grandson or granddaughter in trouble. One version of the story includes an arrest and request for help with bail.


Sometimes the scammers will use the victim’s social media sites to gather real names, nicknames and travel plans to make their story more realistic.


WARNING SIGNS


How to spot a scam:


  • You don’t recognize the voice as your friend or family member

  • The caller says it’s an emergency and makes an urgent request for money

  • The caller insists you tell no one (they may claim to be embarrassed)

  • A stranger will show up at your home to pick up the money, or it’s being sent to an unfamiliar address or account


What to do – and not do – if you receive a suspicious call:


  • Stay calm no matter how dramatic the story is or how threatening or intimidating the caller sounds

  • Take time to verify the story

  • Ask the caller questions only that person would know (such as the name of a family pet or a shared memory)

  • Never volunteer personal information to callers

  • Be suspicious of any caller who demands immediate action, especially financial payments

  • If the situation doesn’t feel right don’t be afraid to say no and hang up the phone


AFTER ENDING THE CALL


If you get a suspicious call, police say you should:


  • Call your family members/friends/the company back right away, especially the person who claimed to be calling to verify the message

  • Get a second opinion from a family or friend about the situation

  • Do not send money

  • Report the call to your local police department


CONTACTS


For more information or to report a scam visit:



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