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Grandparent Scams

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Instances of grandparent scams on the rise

Have you checked in on your grandparents or elderly loved ones lately? If not, you should.

Across York Region, unscrupulous fraudsters are preying on our most vulnerable citizens. Investigators have seen a dramatic rise in grandparent scams, which involve a criminal placing a telephone call to an elderly person while posing as their grandchild in distress. The imposter will demand money to help get them out of trouble. As second criminal may also play the role of a government official, police officer or lawyer who provides instructions on how the victim can deliver the cash. These type of frauds may be repeated over the course of days, weeks or even months, as the criminals gain the trust of their victims.  

Grandparent scams account for hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to crime each year. According to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre, this type of fraud resulted in more than $5.4 million losses across Ontario in 2022. Grandparent scams are often under-reported, with an estimated five to 10 per cent of victims coming forward.

Crime prevention tips

  • If you receive a phone call about a grandchild or family member being arrested and needing bail money, it might be a scam
  • Did the person on the phone mention something about:
    • Someone being arrested for impaired driving or drug possession?
    • A car accident?
    • Finding a gun in the car?
    • A pregnant woman?
    • A gag order?
    • Putting cash in an envelope and waiting for a courier to pick it up?
  • Do not offer any money or personal information until you verify the story with family first
  • Call the grandchild or family member in question, at a phone number you recognize as their own
  • Ask the caller personal questions that only your grandchild could answer
  • Press the caller for details if they identify as a government official and verify their information
  • Please take some time and ask yourself: Could this be a scam? Does it make sense?

When to call police

If you think you or a loved one may be the target of a scam, report it online or by calling 1-866-876-5423.

Nicky's story

Using the pseudonym ‘Nicky’, an 81-year-old Newmarket resident has shared how he and his wife lost close to $100,000 in a grandparent scam that took place between March and May 2022.

 In March 2022, Nicky’s wife received a phone call from a person she believed to be her grandson. He claimed that he had been arrested while he was a passenger in his friend’s car, which unbeknownst to him, contained illegal drugs and a gun. A second person, claiming to be an RCMP officer, soon gained the trust of the couple and over the course of two months, persuaded them to make four separate payments to assist their grandson.

To learn more about Nicky's story and learn how you can safeguard yourself and your loved ones, watch the video below.