Police warn residents of grandparents scam

Lethbridge Police Services have issued a public warning on grandparent scam reports increasing within the community.

The grandparent scam, also known as the “emergency scam,” is a tactic used by fraudsters usually targeting elderly and seniors. A representative with Lethbridge Police Services said this scam is carried out with the fraudster pretending to be a family member in need.

“Pretending to be a family member – usually a grandchild – claiming they are in some sort of trouble and need money immediately. The caller may also pretend to be a police officer or lawyer acting on the grandchild’s behalf. They will ask for cash and then send an associate, posing as a police officer, bail bondsman or some other official, to collect the money,” said LPS.

Police say the fraudsters also seek payment through forms of gift cards, bitcoin and even e-transfer.

“Victims are given a variety of reasons why they have to keep quiet and not speak to anyone about the situation,” LPS explained.

Community members can protect themselves and elderly family members from falling victim to these kinds of scams.

“Always verify the caller’s identity and the legitimacy of their story. Call the grandchild directly and if they can’t be reached, contact their parents, siblings or another relative who can help verify the story,” advised Lethbridge Police Service.

Police also advice if callers claim to be a police representative, lawyer, judge or any other official, to call the police station or courthouse to verify the identity claim and legitimacy of the call.

“Do not use any phone numbers or other contact details provided by the caller to try to verify information,” added LPS.

Police say not to provide payments in any form to individuals who can’t be identified.

Police say if money is asked for bail that they and “and court officials will never attend someone’s home to pick-up cash.”

“Bail is always paid in person at the police station, courthouse or correctional centre and receipt of payment is provided.”

Police also warn residents to never disclose any sort of personal identification information over the phone to individuals they can’t identify. If you or anyone you may know has fallen victim to the grandparent scam report it immediately to the police by calling 403-328-4444.

Steffanie Costigan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald