‘Grandparent’ scam on the rise in Ottawa

Scam artists will use any and all tactics to steal money from their victims. Unfortunately, this includes weaponizing a grandparents’ love for their grandchildren.

The ‘grandparent’ scam occurs often in the summer months and targets the elderly.

These scam artists call the elderly claiming to be one of their grandchildren. The scammer will sound frantic and distressed, and typically pretend to cry. They will claim that they have been arrested and need to be sent money or gift cards for their bail.

They will usually provide very little information and won’t reveal their name unless the victim mentions one. They rely on their victims to provide enough information that they can make their story sound believable.

Victims are being made to believe that their grandchild is in trouble and that a fee must be paid to the Ottawa Police. They are also led to believe that ‘Gag Orders’ have been put into place to keep the identity of the ‘officers’ collecting the money anonymous.

The Ottawa Police want to assure the community that not only do they not contact family members for bail money, but they also do not issue ‘Gag Orders’.

In the past week alone there have been 20 reports of this scam, with victims having been scammed between $10,000 and $30,000.

Due to the high volume of ‘grandparent’ scams recently, the Ottawa Police Service want to remind residents to remain cautious of any suspicious calls they receive.

They also warn that any legal issue that requires payment is not paid up front to a police officer, nor via prepaid gift cards or e-transfer.

If you do happen to receive a call similar to this, or that seems suspicious, the Ottawa Police urge you refrain from giving them any personal information.

If the caller claims to be a family member or friend, ask them to confirm their identity first. Do not give them any names or information.

If you’re still unsure, tell the caller you’ll contact them on their regular cell phone number. If they provide you with a new number you don’t recognize, don’t call it.

The Ottawa Police also encourage you to take your time to process phone calls like these. Scammers are relying on victims to feel pressured to act quickly before thinking things through.

These scams can be terrifying. They exploit people’s kindness and willingness to help in order to steal thousands of dollars from their victims.

Don’t be afraid to report any scams you encounter, because even if you don’t fall for it, the next person they contact may not be so lucky.

To protect those you love, always keep your family and friends aware of any current scams to prevent them falling victim.

For more information on how to protect yourself against scams like these, you can visit the website for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.


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2 thoughts on “‘Grandparent’ scam on the rise in Ottawa”

  1. Happened to my mother last Thursday – the amount was less than $4000. Made the police report online – haven’t heard anything.

    There are more than the published number of seniors that were scammed – Ottawa Police hasn’t or doesn’t read the reports filed online.

    How are these people even getting our seniors phone numbers? A list somewhere – electors lists perhaps.

    We owe it to protect our seniors better.

    1. We are so sorry to hear this Jennifer. It is sad when seniors are taken advantage of and we certainly should go out of our way to protect them.

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