Police warn of “grandparent scam”

The “grandparent fraud scam” involves an individual making a phone call to a senior and telling the senior their grandchild is in jail, and then asking for a large sum of bail money.

The St. Albert RCMP are warning the public about fraud this holiday season.

Police say there has been a rise in “grandparent fraud scams,” and the RCMP are encouraging residents to share information about fraud with friends, family, and seniors to aid in the prevention of such scams from occurring, according to a Nov. 18 press release

The grandparent fraud scam involves an individual making a phone call to a senior and telling the senior their grandchild is in jail.

The fraudster can be posed as a lawyer for the grandchild and will ask the senior for a large amount of cash. The fraudster then tells the senior they will pick the cash up at the senior’s home.

“St. Albert RCMP would like to advise the community that bail money can only be paid at a police station or at a courthouse,” said police.

In July 2022, St. Albert RCMP said they received a file from a “concerned grandparent.”

The grandparent had contacted St. Albert RCMP after being told their grandchild was in custody and they would need to pay a bail fee of $9,800 to get the grandchild out of jail.

“The grandparent was waiting at their residence with the money for someone to attend to collect the bail money,” said the RCMP in a release.

Police attended the residence after they recognized the situation as fraud, and where able to arrest and charge Issa Lopez, 18, of North York, Ontario.

Lopez was charged with one count fraud over $5,000 and one count fraud under $5,000.

His next appearance at St. Albert Provincial Court is on Nov. 21 to enter an election and plea.

RCMP said there have been two more recent cases of grandparent fraud scams received by RCMP in Alberta.

If you believe you may have been a victim of fraud or have information about a crime contact the St. Albert RCMP at 780-458-7700 or your local police. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.

St. Albert RCMP has six tips for preventing fraud this holiday season.

1. Protect your computer:

  • Do not click on messages that pop up online and do not call provided numbers
  • Be wary of emails that include attachments are links as they may contain viruses or spyware
  • Make sure operating systems are up-to-date and anti-virus software is installed

2. Protect your online accounts:

  • Create strong passwords which include upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers
  • Don’t reuse the same password

3. Don’t be afraid to say no

  • If someone calls and asks for money or for you to buy something from them, hang up.

4. Do your research

  • Verify an organization is legitimate.
  • Check a company’s official website for contact information and call them to confirm their call to you was valid.
  • If a call is received about a family member in trouble, confirm the situation with other family members first.

5. Don’t give out personal information

  • Beware of callers asking for personal information such as name address, birth date, Social Security Numbers, banking information, and credit card numbers.

6.Beware of upfront fees

  • There are no prize fees or taxes in Canada.
  • There are many scams involving fee requests in advance of receiving goods, services, or a prize.
  • It’s illegal for a company to ask you to pay a fee upfront before they’ll give you a loan.

Leave a Comment