Don’t fall for the Grandparent SCAM says OPP

The South Bruce Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) wants to ensure our community is informed about frauds/scams and how to better protect yourself. Don’t fall for the grandparent scam also known as the relative in jail scam or the emergency scam.

In a typical Grandparent Scam, a scammer/con artist calls or emails the victim posing as a relative in distress or claiming to represent the relative, such as a lawyer or police officer. The “relative” of the grandparent explains she/he is in trouble and needs their grandparent to wire them funds that will be used for bail money, lawyer’s fees, hospital bills, or another expense. The grandparent is urged not to tell anyone, such as the parent of the “grandchild” because they do not want them to find out about the trouble they’ve gotten themselves into. The grandparent is tricked out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

The scammers are very good at what they do. They make the story very convincing and make you feel like it is an urgent matter.  They make the stakes incredibly high, leaving the victim feeling as if there is no choice but to help their relative in trouble.

How do scammers choose their targets? 

It can be random, but often scammers will try and get a lot of information about their victims and the relatives of the victims by searching social networking sites like facebook, twitter and instagram or by hacking into your email account.

How to protect yourself?

  • Make sure you have ramped up your privacy settings on your social media accounts and safeguard your email by using antivirus and anti-spyware software
  • Don’t open attachments in emails from people you don’t know or aren’t in close contact with (They may contain software programs that enable criminals to access your computer remotely)
  • Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills
  • Before sending funds, independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative) the scamrmer is claiming to be (or represent) at a known phone number to verify the details of the story
  • Scam artist’s payment method of choice is the wire transfer – any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously

The OPP are reminding all South Bruce residents to be extremely vigilant and to never give personal information such as your social insurance number or bank account information to anyone. 

Fraud is a multi-billion dollar per year business that will only stop when the con artists stop making money.

Work hard to protect your money. Do not hand it over to a scammer pretending to be a relative.

If you have received a fraudulent phone call or email and have not provided any personal information or lost any money, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 to file a report for statistical purposes.

If you lost money as a result of a fraud/scam, you may file a report with the South Bruce OPP by calling 1-888-310-1122.