Marteny: Be wary of fraudsters using family ties to rip you off

When the grandson scam was first detected being attempted in Kelowna in December 2009, then again in August 2010, the Kelowna RCMP publicized it through the local media to warn the public about this particular fraud.

But the scam remains actively attempted in our community today, and seniors are being defrauded of their money.

As more reports of the same fraud have been reported, the police again want to warn the public to not fall victim to this fraud.

This is how it usually plays out: A person, usually a senior, gets a call from someone claiming to be a family member, a young adult that 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 to them in order to facilitate their release from jail.

In one instance, the 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, the 86-year-old female victim received a call from a male claiming to be her “grandson” and was given the same story.

The victim, possibly 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. She saved herself $5,000.

The fact that criminals are preying upon our seniors, the more vulnerable members of our community, is despicable.

Sadly, police can do little more than warn the public as it is almost impossible to track down the suspects involved in these fraud scams.

Generally, these people are operating outside of the country.

So, be wary of anyone who asks for money in any way, be it face to face, over the Internet, or by phone or mail.

Always ask questions and follow up to see if the requestor is legitimate.

Familiarize yourself with the documented active scams by checking out websites such as or

Be aware that there could be more scams going on than what are listed.

Lastly, report incidents of interactions with would be fraudsters by calling the police.

A lot of these scams are perpetrated very quickly in a given area, and take people by surprise.

The sooner the scam is reported, the sooner the public can be warned and the scammers forced to move on.

Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for

seniors in Kelowna.




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