Calgary police say they are continuing to investigate a series of grandparent scams after seeing a spike in reported incidents with scammers using new tactics to target seniors.
Police said in a statement Monday that they received 99 reports of scams against seniors from Jan. 1 to June 30 this year.
In the past, police say scammers typically called seniors on the phone, claiming to be their grandchild who had been arrested and was in urgent need of payment to cover bail costs. Payment was usually collected in person by a scammer posing as a court-appointed courier who would come to the homes of victims or have seniors meet them elsewhere with the money, often creating a potentially dangerous situation for the senior.
Rising scams against seniors
Calgary police warn that court-appointed couriers do not exist and if someone asks to come to your home to pick up payment, it is a red flag. Police also say demanding instant payment via e-transfer is also a red flag. E-transfers are instantaneous, and if the recipient isn’t local, it can be difficult to retrieve lost funds.
Police say scammers are now contacting seniors directly via text message and demanding payment via e-transfer, thereby eliminating the need to meet in person to collect the funds.
“Scammers use convincing and high-pressure tactics to prey upon the emotions of senior citizens, ultimately taking advantage of their trust and generosity,” Det. Darcy Williams of the Calgary Police Service says.
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Police are using the slogan, “If it has to be now, it has to be no,” and seniors are being advised to always speak to family, friends, caregivers and other trusted individuals to verify the legitimacy of the claims being made before acting.
“Our goal is to help facilitate open conversations between seniors, caregivers and families while educating citizens about the red flags of this prevalent scam. We encourage anyone who has been victim to report the incident to police immediately,” said Williams.
Grandparent Scams and talking to loved ones
Information on how seniors can protect themselves, along with a description of the grandparent scam ruse, is available on the Calgary Police Service website and anyone with information about these scams is asked to call the police non-emergency number or Crime Stoppers.
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