Business

Fraudsters prey on the elderly

Last week I spoke to a group of seniors about fraud schemes aimed at seniors, with Kelowna RCMP Consts. Ann Donnelly and Carl Stene.

I was amazed at that meeting by the number of seniors who told us that they have been contacted by fraudsters. In particular, those people who were running the grandparent scam.

Within any gathering of seniors, you will find those who have been approached or possibly scammed of thousands of dollars. Readers of this column will be familiar with the grandparent scam. I ask my readers to help their friends by telling them about this scam. Please, cut this column out and post it up where other seniors will read it.

Seniors are losing thousands of dollars because they think that they are helping their grandchildren and then they are too embarrassed to tell anyone what happened.

Many seniors have been taken in with this fraud and it must be stopped. In this particular scam, the fraudster is hoping that the grandparents have not spoken with their grandchildren recently and will not recognize their voices. Also, the grandparents will probably not be up-to-date with where the grandchildren are living or what they are doing.

When the fraudster starts to speak with the seniors, they will phrase their wording in a way that will get the seniors to give the name and details of the grandchildren. A scare tactic is used in combination with helping a grandchild. The other key part of the scam is the grandparents are told not to tell anyone about the telephone call.

If the scam works, the grandparent will wire the requested money and won’t tell anyone about the telephone call. If the fraudster succeeds in getting money from the seniors then, in a day or two, the seniors will receive another telephone call requesting more money.

One of the scams has someone call the grandparent claiming to be a family member, a young adult who is supposedly incarcerated in jail elsewhere in Canada. In some instances, the caller has also claimed to be a lawyer representing the family member.

The caller asks for $5,000 to be wired in order to facilitate their release from jail. In one instance, an 88-year-old male victim wired the money to his “grandson,” whose name was correctly given. The next day the “grandson” called back thanking the victim, and asked for another $5,000 for court costs. At that point, the victim called his real grandson to find out that he was currently living in another country, and was not in jail.

In another instance, an 86-year-old female victim received a call from a male claiming to be her “grandson” and gave the same story. The victim, suspecting something funny was going on, asked to speak to the caller’s lawyer. The caller said the lawyer would call her. No one called her back, so she saved herself $5,000.

Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.

 

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