By Spencer Hall
While chatting with my grandmother, I learned my grandparents were nearly the victims of a phone scam last week.
The type of attempted scam they experienced is typically called a “Grandparent Scam,” which usually entails receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one, such as a grandchild, claiming to be in trouble and in dire need of — you guessed it — money.
In my grandparent’s case, the caller pretended to be my distraught father who’d supposedly been driving while intoxicated that day, hitting a (fake) child and breaking their (fake) femur.
They were then told to call a new number where a phony lawyer told my grandmother my “Dad” needed $5000 to be let out of custody.
This is where my grandparents say they began to grow suspicious. My grandfather didn’t believe the timeline of events could have unfolded as quickly as the callers claimed.
My grandmother decided to call my Dad’s cell and was quite relieved to discover he was safe and at work. They then hung up on the caller and reported the incident to the RCMP.
While I was thankful my grandparents’ encounter ended without a major financial loss, I wasn’t surprised they’d received a scam call.
According to the RCMP, seniors in B.C. reported a loss of over $322,000 from grandparent scams in 2022 and that likely only accounts for a small percentage of actual losses, with police estimating only five to ten per cent of these scams are reported.
The Justice Department of Canada estimates ten per cent of Canadian seniors each year are victims of consumer fraud, which includes grandparent scams.
Should you find yourself at the receiving end of a grandparent scam, here are some tips to keep you safe:
- Remember courts won’t ask for cash to bail people out and will require that person to be present in court
- Hang up and try to contact the family member directly to confirm their whereabouts before sending money
- Don’t provide the caller with any personal information
- Don’t send money through money wire services to people you don’t know personally