15 new incidents of ‘grandparent scam’ reported in last six days: WPS

Winnipeg police are warning the public of a scam that is continuing to hit Winnipeg’s elderly.

The scam dubbed the “grandparent scam” often sees scammers pretending to be the grandchildren of their elderly victims and claiming they need money because they are in trouble.

This usually entails the scammers claiming they have been arrested and need bail money.

WPS first reported the scam in October 2021 and released another warning about it in March which stated the scam had escalated to the point people were showing up at the victim’s house.

Despite the previous two warnings, WPS says 15 new incidents have been reported over the past six days.

Police say in other cases, scammers have posed as members of government or law enforcement looking to collect bail payments.

Winnipeg isn’t the only city to be hit by the “grandparent scam”. Calgary police recently laid 10 charges against a man who allegedly defrauded several Calgary seniors out of thousands of dollars over four months.

Investigators say they spoke with several victims who “courageously came forward to report their experience” with a man allegedly posing as a court-appointed courier.

CPS say the scams ran between February and April, when the alleged fraudsters would show up at victims’ homes to collect thousands of dollars. In April alone, police say 20 “grandparent scams” reported to police defrauded victims of just under $200,000.

Police identified a 38-year-old man after reviewing CCTV footage and speaking with witnesses and charged him with seven counts of fraud over $5,000, three counts of using a stolen credit card and one count of possession of a controlled substance. He is scheduled in court on Wednesday June 8.

Police are now appealing for any other witnesses or victims to come forward.

“We are asking anyone who has been approached by an unknown person asking for bail payment to report it to police,” said Sgt. Mark Auger with CPS. “These fraudsters are clever and convincing, and they prey on people’s generosity and trustworthiness. We’re encouraging citizens to be diligent in verifying people’s identity before handing over any form of payment. Oftentimes talking about the situation with family members and close friends helps bring the truth to light.”

Police say they under no circumstances will ever collect bail money from citizens over the phone.

If you’ve been a victim to the “grandparent scam”, WPS say you can report it online or tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

-with files from Joey Chini, CityNews Calgary

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