Grandparents scam: Halton Police launches new campaign to educate senior citizens
The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has announced a new campaign to raise awareness and combat an increase in Emergency or Grandparent Scams being seen across the region.
The awareness materials will soon be on display at most major banks in the Halton region and are designed to serve as a warning to potential victims attending their banks to withdraw funds.
It outlines some of the common scenarios fraudsters are using to convince victims to give them money.
The Regional Fraud Unit of the Halton police has noted a recent increase in these types of scams being reported over the past couple months and is concerned the increase may continue.
These types of scams typically involve the victim receiving an unsolicited phone call regarding a loved one being in distress.
The perpetrators falsely identify themselves as a loved one, or impersonate a police officer and/or other participants of the criminal justice system (such a lawyers, bailiffs, and “bondsman”), falsely claiming that the loved one is in police custody as a result of a specific incident.
They request a large sum of money to have the supposed loved one released from custody, or to pay for associated bills/fines accrued as a result of the alleged incident.
The funds requested can be in the form of a direct cash payment, bank transfers, various gift cards, and digital currency.
While the scam is ongoing, and the payments are being made, the perpetrators will on occasion use the threat of a fictitious “gag order” to prevent the victim from discussing the matter with anyone else.
The police say that upon receiving such a call, an attempt should be made to verify the caller’s identity, no information should be voluntarily given, very specific probing questions should be asked about the caller.
The person receiving the call should also request to call back the initial caller – then independently find the number of the police service (or other purported agency in question) and call them directly to clarify the situation. If still, unsure, they should call their local police service and ask them for assistance.
An attempt should also be made to directly call the loved one in question and clarify the matter with them.
Samia Khan, a 65-year-old woman of Pakistani origin said she was narrowly saved from being scammed in this manner last month. “A person posing as a police officer reached out to me and asked me to pay for a bail for my grandson who he said was in custody for an offense.” Luckily, she said, her grandson happened to call her for some other thing and she came to know that things were alright with him.
Jill Arberry, a local business owner said she had been aware of the nature of such crimes through past awareness campaigns and said such campaigns should be more widespread. “It’s good they are putting up posters at banks, but I feel this is not enough. A lot of people may not even go to the bank and would make online transfers instantly. There’s a need to educate people through multiple channels”, she said.
Shazia Nazir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter